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Central United 2, Napier City Rovers 0
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, August 17 2014

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Here we are at Chatham Cup semi-final time! How did we get here? I’m glad you asked. Deep breath…

It all started with 127 teams back in April with a lovely day in Auckland’s far East where I watched Bucklands Beach AFC dispatch Te Kuiti Albion in the preliminary round, I then saw Mount Albert Ponsonby in turn take out Bucklands Beach and then North Shore in turn take out MAP, then Rod de Lisle took up the story as Hamilton Wanderers knocked out North Shore, and then Bay Olympic, then it was back to me for the quarter-finals where Wanderers succumbed to Central United, which brings us up to today, back at Kiwitea Street, for this semi-final clash between Central and Napier City Rovers. Follow all that? No? Me neither.

However we got here, this really was a match-up to look forward to. Two famous old clubs with a bit of shared history in the not tooooooooooo distant past! Napier City Rovers are four time Chatham Cup winners, whereas Central have won New Zealand’s most prestigious sporting trophy five times and a lot of those victories for these two teams have come at each other’s expense.

These days there’s no national league and teams from different regions can’t meet until the last eight of the cup so it’s been a little while since Central and NCR played each other. It appears to me their last clash was a 3-2 national league semi-final victory for Central in 2003. The Aucklanders also managed a 1-0 win over today’s Central Premier League opponents in the 2001 Chatham Cup quarter-finals, but it was Rovers who got the last final victory, defeating Central 4-1 in the 2000 Chatham Cup decider. Some years earlier, Napier City Rovers defeated Central 5-2 in the 1998 national league grand final. Central won the 1997 Chatham Cup final vs NCR 3-2 but lost the national league semi-final 3-0 in the same year to the same opposition. So I make that three wins a piece in knockout football over the past 17 years! This calls for a tie-breaker.

Based on having watched both Central and runaway Central League winners Miramar this season, I thought Central would be too far too strong today. My score prediction on Facebook was 4-2, so in the end I correctly predicted the two-goal margin but in reality they were reasonably evenly matched sides. 1-0 would have been a fairer reflection of the gap and would have been a more just result considering Central’s first half penalty was a bit dubious at best, and if you don’t believe me just check Central’s Twitter feed where the official club position is they were very lucky to get it.

Their second half goal via James Hoyt on the counter attack was much less controversial  though and to be fair they did look the whole game to just possess just that little bit extra measure of quality despite Napier City Rovers enjoying a couple of good spells, most notably in the middle of the second half. In the final wash, Central’s possession based style of football strangled the life out of their guests and their victory was well deserved.

I now know that my odyssey will end with 2013 champs Cashmere Technical taking on 2012 champs Central United. The only unknown factor is the venue. Hopefully for my sake it will be in Auckland, I’m not too sure if I’m financially up for a flight to Christchurch. It’s been two years since a final was up here and considering there are also two Auckland teams in the Women’s Knockout Cup final, with any luck cost considerations will mean that it is cheaper to fly Cashmere up than everyone else down. We shall wait and see!

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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