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Lucky charm

Glenfield Rovers 2, Three Kings 2 (Glenfield won 3-1 on penalties)
McFetridge Park, Auckland, June 24 2018

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Cup days always present a dilemma for me when it comes to where to go and who to watch. So many tasty clashes to choose from and so little ability to be in eight or nine places at once.

The pressure is really on. There is nothing I enjoy more than a closely fought tie that ends up going to extra time and penalties – not to mention the fact that they tend to make good copy. The trouble is, those that oblige in this regard are often the ones you least expect.

On Sunday though, I wasn’t really thinking too deeply about the potential for drama because Glenfield did a great job of reeling me in hook, line and sinker. And I got the drama anyway almost as an added bonus!

When the draws came out for both cups, Rovers obviously realised quickly that it had presented them with a great opportunity. Their women’s first team, current holders of the Kate Sheppard Cup, had been drawn at home against Three Kings while their men’s team would face Chatham Cup holders Onehunga Sports on the same weekend. So they did an excellent thing – made a double header out of it with both cups on display in the clubrooms as an added drawcard.

And to make things even more interesting again, New Zealand Football were offering the chance to win a signed All Whites shirt and VIP tickets to cup finals day for people who came and took a selfie with one of the cups. If I wasn’t sold before I was when I saw that, even if I did withdraw my entry when I saw the quality of some of the competition…

That Tweet may make me look chivalrous, but actually I have to admit I simply realised I didn’t stand a chance against such unmitigated cuteness…

As for the aforementioned drama, well it started before a ball was even kicked! One of the assistant referees sustained a pre-game injury and there was a bit of a delayed start while arrangements were made for a replacement – which ended up consisting of NFF Referee Development Officer and all round nice guy Chris Casey getting unceremoniously hauled out of retirement from active duty to sprint around the pitch and take up the flag shortly after kick-off!

And the football itself got off to a roaring start as well with Helen King opening the scoring for the visitors in just the 4th minute of the game.

From that point on it was predominantly Rovers in the ascendency as they probed away at the Three Kings defence, eventually breaking through it when Dayna Stevens drew her side level with 20 minutes gone. 1-1 was the score at the break.

Recent Wellingtonian immigrant Maggie Jenkins completed the Rovers comeback with a shade over ten minutes to go, giving them a lead that was hard to imagine not standing despite the definite impact that was being made by the introduction of Hannah Blake, who was subbed on by Three Kings in the 62nd minute.

But in classic cup tradition, we got an injury time equaliser! Caitlin Pritchard converted through the squally rain from the penalty spot after Tessa Leong had been felled from behind inside the box by Liz Milne.

Off to extra time we went, but nobody could break the deadlock in the additional half hour so death strikes it had to be.

Glenfield prevailed, with Dayna Stevens having the honour of striking home the winning penalty. A just result in the end, all things considered.

I want to give a shoutout to Simon from Twitter at this point. Simon is convinced that I am a jinx to Rovers, as they quite often lose with me in attendance – although, I would point out, I’ve seen them win this very competition twice! Regardless, I am glad they managed to overcome the severe handicap of my presence to advance to the quarter finals on this occasion.

Indeed, it’s also worth noting that the Rovers men went on to lose their game on penalties – and I wasn’t there. I instead fulfilled my promise to Papamoa that I would catch their Chatham Cup tie ten minutes’ drive away at Shepherds Park.

On that basis, Rovers might want me at every game they play! I shall await the call.

Categories: NZ Kate Sheppard Cup

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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