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Wai United win Chatham Cup thriller

Wairarapa United goalkeeper Coey Turipa makes a save under pressure from Angus Kilkolly of Napier City Rovers. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

By Jake Beleski

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Wairarapa United survived an extra time thriller against Napier City Rovers yesterday afternoon to advance to the fourth round of the Chatham Cup.

United were never behind in the match played at Park Island in Napier, but with the scores locked at 3-3 after 90 minutes it was only two goals in the first half of extra time that finally separated the two teams.

Rovers scored their fourth with a few minutes remaining, but United held on for a 5-4 win.

It was almost a case of déjà vu for United, who had narrowly beaten Rovers 4-3 in their Central League clash at the same venue earlier this season.

Speaking to Hawke’s Bay Today after the match, United captain Sam Mason-Smith was a relieved man.

“Obviously we’ve had some humdingers with Napier over the years and a lot of goals scored at both ends but today was just about being in the hat in a cup game for the next round.

“At one point we were very comfortable but credit to Napier they came back twice and we were in for a battle so we’re into the hat for the next round and that’s what’s most important.”

Paul Ifill had given United the lead from a penalty in the first half, and the score remained 1-0 at halftime.

In a trend that became common throughout the second half, Rovers responded emphatically when Josh Stevenson guided his shot home to equalise.

Ifill scored his second to again give United the lead, and a third goal to the visitors threatened to take the game away from Rovers.

But the home side weren’t going to go down without a fight, and two quick goals, the second from perennial goal scorer Angus Kilkolly, all of a sudden had United on the back foot.

Both teams had chances to clinch the match winner before extra time, but neither side could find the finishing touch.

United pounced quickly once the extra time period began, scoring first through Ermal Hajdari and then Seule Soromon.

They did enough to hold onto their lead despite Kilkolly scoring his second before the final whistle.

Mason-Smith was quick to praise the impact of Ifill on the outcome of the match.

“Paul Ifill keeps coming back every year and keeps improving doesn’t he?

“I think the fitness is still just about there and I’m sure it’ll drop off but he just keeps scoring these goals.”

The two sides will meet again in Masterton on July 9 in a Central League clash.

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