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An Onehunga too far

Onehunga Sports 4, Ngaruawahia United 0
Waikaraka Park, Auckland, June 29 2013

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Onehunga Sports was an Onehunga too far for Ngaruawahia United yesterday, as they finally fell in the fourth round of the Chatham Cup. Despite having dispatched Onehunga Mangere the previous round, they weren’t able to claim the double over clubs from the shadow of One Tree Hill. Despite the 4-0 scoreline, it was a creditable performance from the Green Machine but in the end, playing a club who are contenders for the premier division title, they were done in by superior quality plain and simple combined with a wee bit of rotten luck.

It looked like being one of those days for the visitors before the two sides even took the pitch. Ngaruawahia had travelled down state highway one with their white away kits, unaware that their hosts play in white at home. This necessitated playing the first half in black training shirts with numbers added by way of plastic tape, while a club official raced back to the Waikato to retrieve their home strips in time for the second stanza. To non-sporting types, it’s only a shirt, but to footballers one might think this must have had a negative psychological effect. As it happened though, the opposite seemed true.

While they might have looked a bit bedraggled, the visitors more than held their own in the first half of the game. Apart from one golden earlyish Onehunga opportunity that would have been harder to miss than to score, lifted over the bar of an open goal, Ngaruawahia held most of the early possession and managed to sustain some nice pressure on their opponents. It was against the run of play when a Ngara mix-up led to a counter attack, and with Onehunga attackers outnumbering the defence, Daishi Furukawa was left with an easy tap in that gave the home side the 1-0 lead that they took into half time.

Just as the teams were about to emerge for the second half, a pile of Ngaruawahia’s emerald green kits arrived in the arms of a red faced out of breath gentlemen, and the cheer from the dressing room reverberated around the ground. But when the match restarted, it seemed the progress in terms of aesthetics, coincided with a slight regression in terms of performance.

Onehunga looked like a much more switched on unit and quickly started to dominate possession. This culminated in a beautifully worked Rory Kelly goal in the 52nd minute. From that point on the wheels fell off for the visitors somewhat and despite the odd flash of hope, they never really looked like getting back into the game. Kelly netted again fifteen minutes before the end and five minutes before the full time whistle the day was rounded off by a final Michael Freeman nail in the Ngara coffin.

The Chatham Cup goes national now, and with every New Zealand Football federation represented by one team in the quarter finals, except Northern Football who have two, the draw on Monday promises to throw up some interesting challenges for some. Football clubs in this country are amateur and don’t have pots of money for away trips to far flung parts of the country. A home draw becomes a massive advantage and at this stage it’s impossible to pick who the favourites are for this competition. Its 90th year is shaping up as one of its best!

After the game yesterday, I spoke to the Onehunga Sports assistant coach, who seemed at least somewhat weary of the draw…

I myself was planning a trip to Wellington for the Quarter finals but will wait for the draw before booking anything…

Categories: NZ Chatham Cup

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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