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Central United 2, Hamilton Wanderers 0
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, July 27 2014

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Reciting how I got to each stage of the Chatham Cup odyssey is starting to become a bit like quoting verses from the Old Testament, but here goes. It all started with Bucklands Beach’s 4-2 victory over Te Kuiti Albion way back in the preliminary round on April 21. Then I saw Mount Albert Ponsonby in turn beat Bucklands Beach 3-1 in round 1, then North Shore United beat Mount Albert Ponsonby 2-0 in round 2. Then Rod de Lisle took up the story as Hamilton Wanderers defeated North Shore 3-1 in round 3, and then Bay Olympic 3-2 in the round of 16. Which brings us to yesterday, and the quarter finals, following which only four of the 127 teams that entered the competition way back at the start could remain.

Wanderers drew arguably the toughest draw out of all the remaining possible fixtures. A trip to Dunedin might have hurt the pocket more, but instead this short trip up State Highway One for the Hamiltonians saw them face a team that boasts a fair chunk of the Auckland City side that are the champions of Oceania. It’s no accident that out of dozens of fixtures attended, I have never seen a Waikato team win at Kiwitea Street in my life. This was perhaps the best opportunity yet for it to finally happen though.

Wanderers are a very good Northern Premier League side well coached by former Waikato United star and fringe All White Mark Cossey and boasting some of the region’s finest talent. And they gave it a good shake. It was one of those games that while one side was slightly dominant, either could have come away with the result.

Even though the radar was a bit off in the first half and several Central shots on target found Wanderers keeper Vlad Frank rather than the back of the net, one sensed that the Hamiltonians would not come out of the game unscathed if they kept allowing the Central attack the space they were getting. The visitors had a few first half chances of their own but they were largely on the counter and Central keeper Jacob Spoonley wasn’t too seriously challenged that I can recall. But as we all know, if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net you don’t deserve to win football games so with the half time score at 0-0 it was still very much anyone’s.

The difference between the two sides outed itself in the second spell though, and its name was Mr Emiliano Tade. He was a constant menace throughout the game but it was after the break that he found his range, scoring both of Central’s goals. The first was a simple enough finish after he made the initial break then got on the end of a nice one-two to knock home the opener. His second was a late penalty after keeper Frank had brought him down in a one-on-one situation. In between though, there was time for Wanderers fans to feel a bit hard done by. They felt Tade was a bit lucky to stay on the pitch following a two footed tackle from behind on Mark Jones. I got a photo of the incident which you can see below. You be the judge.

As they say though, look at the scoreboard, and I think on the balance of the performances of the two sides, Wanderers couldn’t have too many complaints.

Like all big games at Kiwitea, it was a great occasion. Plenty of good entertainment, food, drink ground announcements, programmes and decent crowd in attendance – none of which are ever a given in this country. To top it all off they even had all the big domestic and confederation trophies – ASB Premiership, Chatham Cup and Oceania Champions League – on show and just as a bit of icing on the cake the Under 20 World Cup was on display as well. All were available for photos – don’t mind if I do… Closest a Roma shirt has gotten to silverware like that in far too long, not going to turn down that opportunity…

The four possibilities for the penultimate instalment in this footballing adventure of mine are back here at Kiwitea, Napier, Christchurch or Waikaraka Park in Onehunga. I know which venue I prefer by a long way. Fingers crossed then for a return to this great little football ground when the semi-final draw is made tomorrow. If a Central home tie eventuates, perhaps the Auckland City Ultras could put in a guest performance and sing us a few songs? I note Yellow Fever were at Island Bay for the quarter final down there. We don’t want to be outdone on any front now do we?

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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