Chatham Cup, Round 3
Sunday 25th June
Bluewater Stadium, Napier 
Att: 260ish

There are lots of things I love about the Chatham Cup and road trips are one of them. So when the 3rd round draw was made the one game that stood out in the Central \ Capital region was Napier City Rovers taking on Wairarapa United. It wasn't only the road trip that made this attractive. It was a repeat of the 2011 final, which Wairarapa United won 2-1, and there was the small fact that games between these teams always produce goals. In fact the last 10 meetings of these teams they have produced an amazing 58 goals between them!

Napier City Rovers were formed in 1973 by a merger of Napier Rovers and Napier City. They progressed through the Central League and made it into the National League in 1982. Despite winning the Chatham Cup in 1985 (beating North Shore United 3-1) they were relegated. They bounced straight back and by 1989 had secured their first of four National League titles. Four Chatham Cup wins and three runners up medals in both the National League & Chatham Cup, along with a excellent set up at Park Island, where the ground and setup is not dissimilar to that of an English non-league club, has seen them establish themselves as one of New Zealand's top clubs. 

Napier City Rovers Bluewater Stadium The JourneyFan

Wairarapa United were formed in 1996 by a merger of Masterton and Carterton. They have had success in winning the Chatham Cup in 2011 and while they have yet to win the Central League they have finished in the top three in five of the last eight seasons, and this season are currently sitting in second place. 

This game had all that was needed for a cup classic, two closely matched competitive teams that knew each other well, can score goals for fun, a boisterous home crowd and it lived up to it, especially in the second half.

Wairarapa United had a slight edge in the first half and were making more chances and only being denied by good saves from Napier's custodian, Ruben Parker. Wairarapa United were finally rewarded when Paul Ifill was bought down in the penalty area in the last minute of the half and made no mistake in slotting home the penalty.

Paul Ifill send Ruben Parker the wrong way  The JourneyFan

12 minutes into the second half, Napier City Rover's Josh Stevenson, evened up the scores when he rose to meet a cross and head past Coey Turipa in the Wairarapa goal. Three minutes later Paul Ifill restored their lead when he thundered the ball into the top of the net for his and Wairarapa United's second. From the restart Napier forced a good save from  Turipa. Then we got a five minute spell that produced three goals. First Wairarapa's United's excellent Swedish striker Ermal Hadjari, broke down the left and was almost on the byline before he managed to beat Parker from an almost impossible angle to make it 3-1.

I have seen Wairarapa United a few times this season and thought that this would be the game now as they'd close up, keep the ball off Napier and see out the remaining 20 minutes. I obviously haven't seen Napier City Rovers this season as they weren't having any of that! Two minutes after the restart Ross Willox pulled one back and then two minutes later goal machine Angus Kilkolly added another to his tally of 22 for the season and it was all square.

Angus Kilkolly celebrates his 23rd goal of the season The JourneyFan

The last 10 minutes were pretty frantic, both teams trying to get a winner, some robust challenges going in from both sets of players, Ifill hit the post, but neither team could get that goal so we went to extra time.

It was Wairarapa United that came out firing in extra time, Hadjari got his second with a tap in after two minutes, Ifill had a shot that just missed, then Hadjari almost got a hat-trick, but it was substitute Seule Solomon who got Wairarapa's fifth to give them a 5-3 lead at the turn around.

The drama wasn't over yet, when Paul Ifill broke down the left flank and knocked the ball into the center, Jorge Akers then made a very late tackle on Ifill, and was sent for premature ablutions with about 10 minutes left.

Angus Kilkolly got his second of the game with three minutes left on the clock, but after this Napier City Rovers were unable to force the game to penalties and Wairarapa United keep alive their dream of securing a second Chatham Cup.


Napier City Rovers' Oliver Coren "tackles" Wairarapa's Alex Ridsdale The JourneyFan