Suburbs book first final in over a decade

Western Suburbs celebrate Dominic Wooldridge's winner against Cashmere Technical in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup semi-finals (Photosport)

Wellington’s Western Suburbs will take part in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup final for the first time in 11 years after finally overcoming a stoic effort from 10-man Cashmere Technical in the semi-finals this afternoon.

With home advantage in Christchurch and a vociferous bunch of Cantabrians cheering them on, Cashmere had plenty to play for as they were still in the running to complete a remarkable quadruple. Deane Hutchinson’s side had already claimed both the Mainland Premier League and Southern Football League titles in recent weeks and have an English Cup final to look forward to on Tuesday.

But adding the Chatham Cup – which they won in consecutive years in 2013 and 2014 – to that impressive haul proved beyond them against a Western Suburbs outfit packed full of some of the country’s most promising young talent.

One of the jewels in Suburbs’ crown was not available – midfielder Callum McCowatt is on a three-month trial in the Netherlands with Sparta Rotterdam – but other members of the Ole Football Academy were on hand and underlined why they are so highly regarded with an accomplished display against the hugely-experienced Cashmere.

The hosts were on track to make the final themselves though when Lyle Matthysen, who also struck in the quarter-final win over Manukau United, gave Cashmere an early lead with their first serious attack of the match in just the third minute.

But the youngsters from the capital did not take long to reply, Matthew Garbett getting them back on level terms just a few minutes later. The visitors then took the lead in dramatic circumstances just past the half-hour mark in a match-turning moment.

A defensive mix up from Cashmere allowed Nathanael Hailemariam to go one-on-one with Danny Knight and he rounded the goalkeeper but was then brought down by Nicholas Haworth. A double blow was dished out to Technical as a penalty was awarded and Haworth received his marching orders before Mohamed Awad slotted home the spot kick.

That appeared to have given Suburbs a half-time lead to reflect on but, despite now being at a numerical disadvantage, Cashmere fought their way back into the game when former All White Aaron Clapham made it 2-2 on the stroke of half-time.

The equaliser arrived against the run of play somewhat and the second spell followed a similar pattern to the first with Suburbs enjoying more of the ball but Cashmere still providing a threat on the counter attack.

Neither side could find a winner though as an increasingly tense encounter headed into extra time. Youth international Elijah Just, who is set to join McCowatt overseas when he leaves next month for a trial at German club Werder Bremen, did get the ball in the net but his strike was ruled out for offside and it was beginning to look like penalties may be required to separate the teams.

But that fate was avoided with only ten minutes left on the clock when Dominic Wooldridge rose to head home a corner and finally give Western Suburbs a dramatic win.

They have now made their first final since back-to-back appearances in 2006 and 2007 and will be aiming for the third title in their history. The Wellingtonians will face either Nelson Suburbs or 2016 winners Birkenhead United, who are set to clash in the other ISPS Handa Chatham Cup semi-final tomorrow afternoon.

ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Semi-Finals

Cashmere Technical 2 (Lyle Matthysen 3’, Aaron Clapham 45’)
Western Suburbs 3 (Matthew Garbett 7’, Mohamed Awad 32’, Dominic Wooldridge 110’)
AET, HT: 2-2, FT: 2-2

Nelson Suburbs vs Birkenhead United
Sunday 26 August, 2pm
Saxton Field, Nelson

Article added: Saturday 25 August 2018

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