Bryan Kaltak, player of the match performance for Wairarapa United. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
There will be no inquests into Wairarapa United’s 2-0 loss to Central United in their Chatham Cup men’s football quarter-final match at Kiwitea Park, Auckland on Sunday.
Rather it will go down as Wairarapa United’s best performance of the 2017 season even though the result was not the desired outcome.
The star-studded Central United side, led by national league stars Albert Reira, Emiliano Tade and Armin Pasagic, were fully extended by a Wairarapa United squad belying their rank underdog tag.
Indeed, the score was locked up at 0-0 right up until the 84th minute when Dean Lausev put Central United one up and Tade scored their second two minutes into additional time from a counterattack after Wairarapa United had basically pushed everyone forward as they desperately sought the equaliser.
Never one to take a loss as an acceptable result even Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley only had good things to say about his team’s brave showing.
“Honestly, I can’t say anything bad about this one, everybody played really well and with a bit of luck here and there we could have actually pulled it off,” Keinzley said.
“I wouldn’t say we were unlucky but there was nothing in it all the way through, it could have gone either way.”
Going into the quarter-final, questions had justifiably been asked about Wairarapa United’s defensive structure with several “soft” goals having been leaked in lead-up games.
On this occasion, however, the tightness of the defence was one of their main attributes with goalkeeper Coey Turipa fearless in going for the ball in the air or on the ground and pulling off several fine saves and fullbacks Bryan Kaltak — a prime contender for any player of the match award — and Daniel Allan always staying composed in the heat of pressure.
“We had talked a lot about the absolute necessity of keeping their front runners under wraps and for the most part we did that well, some of their bigger names hardly made any impact at all,” Keinzley said.
“We worked our butts off defensively, there were no shirkers in that area.”
Pleasing too, was the number of goal scoring opportunities created by Wairarapa United on a grass surface which was uneven in places and provided for an inconsistent bounce.
“It wasn’t easy to control the ball because of the deviations but I thought we coped well,” Keinzley said.
“We did stretch their defence several times, probably even more than they did ours.”
Wairarapa United was one of two teams from the Capital region to make it through to the quarters and the other, Western Suburbs, were also eliminated, going down to another Auckland side, Bay Olympic, by 2-1.
Having already guaranteed themselves the 2017 Central League title, the youthful Western Suburbs side was chasing a prized double but were thwarted by a Bay Olympic side who broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 60th minute when Julyan Collett scored.
A third-Auckland-based club through to the semis is Onehunga Sports who accounted for defending champions Birkenhead 3-0, two of the goals coming late in the second half while in the South Island derby, Cashmere Technical, from Christchurch, had a 3-0 victory over Nelson Suburbs.