Chatham Cup Last 16 - 1st half

Wairarapa United 2 Miramar Rangers 4
Chatham Cup Round 4
Memorial Park, Masterton
Saturday 16th July 2016
Attendance about 200
Cost $5

The last 16 of the Chatham Cup and this time there were no games in Wellington, so it called for another road trip, this time to Masterton & Palmerston North.

Until recent times it would be fair to say that Masterton and the Wairarapa have been something of a footballing backwater.

They do have some unique Chatham Cup history though. 
The Chatham Cup was first proposed in April 1922 by the crew of the HMS Chatham who commissioned and paid for the trophy (at a cost of 175 pounds) as their way of saying thanks to the hospitality shown to them by the people of New Zealand. The NZFA received the trophy in December of 1922. It wasn't until April 1923 that the NZFA started to look at how the competition would work. They decided that they would run the National Round and leave it up to local FA's to determine how a representative from their region would be selected. Some FA's such as Canterbury couldn't see how they would fit games in so didn't enter in the first year. The Auckland FA decided that the 2nd round of their league competition would double up as Chatham Cup games with the winner qualifying (Northcote were the champions).

So the first ever Chatham Cup games were mostly likely combined league & cup games in Auckland. The first dedicated Chatham Cup (ie Chatham cup games only) came from a more unusual location.

On the 14 June 1923, the Wairarapa FA advised the NZFA that they had four entries, Masterton, YMCA, Waingawa & Post & Telegraph (P&T) and sometime between then and 14 July these teams played each other to determine the finalists for the Wairarapa. The Wairarapa final was played on July 21st when Waingawa beat P&T 3-1. So the Wairarapa, along with Manawatu (who had some qualifying games around the same time) probably hold the honour of playing the first dedicated Chatham Cup games. The winners of these FA's competitions, Waingawa (Wairarapa) & Dawber's Motor Depot (Manawatu) then played each other in Masterton with Dawber's winning 6-0.

The next time a team from the Wairarapa figured significantly in Chatham Cup competition was in 1956 when Masterton Athletic made it to the ¼ finals only to be beaten 7-3 by eventual winners, Stop Out.

Then in 1996 Masterton United and Carterton merged to form Wairarapa United and this club has gone on to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Central League and in 2011 they won the Chatham Cup, beating Napier City Rovers 2-1 in the final.

Miramar Rangers have won the Chatham Cup 4 times (1966, 1992, 2004 & 2010). 
This was the 5th time these teams have met in the Chatham Cup competition each with 2 wins apiece. This season both teams have been involved in cup games that could be described as classics. Wairarapa United in Round 2 when they overcame Waterside-Karori 5-4 after extra time in a game that included 4 sendings off. While Miramar had beaten Napier City Rovers 4-3 after extra time in the last round.

Wairarapa United had rested players against Olympic last weekend to concentrate on the cup, Miramar had lost their last 2 games in the league and were starting to slip of the pace (although they are only 4 points behind the league leaders - it is that tight of a league this year)

The game was delayed by 30 minutes due to a car crash near Upper Hutt which had meant that the Miramar team took 3 hours to get over the hill to Masterton (a trip that should take half that time).

Once the game started it took 10 minutes for the first event to happen. Wairarapa's Nicholas Raab and Miramar's Finn Moore came together in the penalty area, from where I was I didn't see much more than 2 players running into each other, however others told me later that there was a push from Raab on Moore which was why the ref gave a penalty. What was more surprising was the referee's decision to show Raab the red card as well.
Tom Jackson scored from the spot.
Josh Hill guesses the right way but can't save Tom Jackson's penalty

From the kick off you wouldn't have known that Wairarapa were down to 10 men unless you counted and 9 minutes later player coach, Paul Ifill, hit a low shot through a crowd of players in the penalty area and made it 1-1. Wairarapa United continued to play well and it was almost as if losing a player was beneficial to them and just after the half hour mark Sam Mason-Smith made it 2-1.

The score should have stayed that way until half time but with about 3 minutes until half time the Wairarapa United defence had a momentary lapse of concentration and Miramar equalised, I wish I could tell you how it happened but I too had a momentary lapse of concentration (I was deleting some photos) and all I know was Tom Jackson got the goal.

Sometimes there are moments that turn a match and the home crowd will probably claim that it was the sending off of Raab, but in this game it was half time when Paul Ifill had to come off after picking up a knock. Wairarapa United were still playing well but seemed to lose a bit of creativity and seemed to be sitting a bit further back and relying on attacking via counter attacks. The problem with this approach is that giving a team like Miramar the majority of possession in your half will inevitability lead to them scoring and that's what happened in the 70th minute when Tom Jackson got his hat-trick after a goalmouth scramble.

Wairarapa United started to push forward after this as they were eager to get a goal back but Miramar's defence was solid. Wairarapa were getting more and more desperate, the 200 strong crowd were (and had been since the sending off incident) on the referee's back and a couple of rash challenges were starting to fly in and then with 7 minutes to go Sam Mason-Smith made a particularly bad challenge with studs up and the ref had no option but to send him off. This was effectively the end of the game and Miramar finally managed to make the numerical advantage count when Tom Jackson scored his and Miramar's 4th with 2 minutes left.

So Miramar Rangers go into the quarter final draw, while the season is effectively over for Wairarapa United. This season Wairarapa United have been a good team to watch but have just lacked that extra edge that the teams in the top half of the table have. One thing is for sure the Wairarapa is no longer the footballing backwater that it once was.