Bucklands Beach AFC 2, Ngongotaha 5
Rogers Park, Auckland, May 9 2015
It was back to Rogers Park on Saturday! After two rather memorable Chatham Cup games there last season (one and two), I was looking forward to seeing if lightning would strike a third time. Would I be treated to more cup magic in one of Auckland’s nicest little spots? Not exactly, but it was still a most pleasant afternoon out watching real grassroots football.
Bucklands Beach has a great feel. It’s a peninsular with the Hauraki Gulf on both sides, but it is one of the few coastal Auckland suburbs that still has that old beachy feel you remember as a kid without having turned into too much of a playground for the rich.
Since last we met, the locals have stepped up a level from AFF division 1 to the AFF/NFF Conference and they appear to be adapting nicely. They look to have strengthened their squad a bit from last season with some top quality young players. It’s a youthful looking side, but sitting eighth in the Conference out of 12 with ten points from seven games, they are no slouches in a difficult league.
Their opponents in this game were Ngongotaha, from a little town on the outskirts of Rotorua, but carrying a fine footballing pedigree. I have never seen them play but many people have told me in recent seasons that they are a club well worth watching. One of the better sides in the WaiBOP Premiership, they currently sit third and are an outfit known to cause NRFL teams problems in the Cup in the past.
All of this made the both sides a real draw card for me in this, round 1 of the Chatham Cup!
The last time I saw Bucklands Beach play it was one of the better cup games I went to last season. They took Mount Albert Ponsonby, a team three leagues higher than them on the ladder, all the way into extra time – and they showed some of that real fighting spirit in this match. The first half especially was a quintessential cup encounter. Ngongotaha were bigger, faster, stronger and better. But plucky, tenacious Bucklands Beach were determined not to lie down.
Ngongotaha were on attack right from the word go and their early goal, scored by Mitch Miller, came as no surprise as despite all the pluck of Bucklands Beach, they weren’t seeing much of the ball and looked pretty suspect on defence. Not to be deterred though, they hit back pretty quickly via a Liam Thompson strike that came on the counter attack and was somewhat against the run of play. From that point on though they got more of a share of possession and looked like making a pretty good game of it until not long before half time. Mitch Miller grabbed his second to give the visitors a 2-1 lead at the break but not before further chances at both ends with the home side hitting the post and the visitors drawing a stunning save from Bucklands Beach keeper Rory Buchanan.
Ngongy started the second half in a similar fashion to the first, looking pretty dominant, but this time rather than keep pace, Bucklands Beach ran out of oomph. Centre Back Dave Haua headed home a corner to double Ngongotaha’s advantage and before I had finished tweeting the update, Luke Baker made it 4-1. Baker got one more to complete the Ngongy haul for the afternoon before 15 minutes of the second half was up and the game was sadly dead as a contest at that point.
A consolation goal scored by Josh Kingston Smith with about 20 minutes left to play failed to spark a comeback and 5-2 was the way it ended.
A disappointing exit for Bucklands Beach. I’m sorry I won’t get to see them again in the cup this year but I’m already looking forward to 2016 when I will be sure to check in again and see what further progress they have made!
Categories: NZ Chatham Cup
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.