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Newbies up for Cup challenge

Wairarapa United skipper Adam Cowan kissing the Chatham Cup after the 2011 final. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES.

FOOTBALL
GARY CAFFELL

Paul Brandon isn’t kidding himself.

He is excited at the prospect of his beloved Martinborough team competing this year in the country’s most famous men’s football knockout competition, the Chatham Cup, but he knows full well that even advancing past the first round would represent an upset of major proportions.

Which is putting it rather kindly when you consider their first-round opponent when cup matches kick off next weekend will be Kapiti Coast United who play in the Capital premier division, several tiers above Martinborough which is contesting division two of the Wairarapa championship.

And, what’s more, Kapiti will have home advantage to boot.

“We know we will be the rank outsiders, and we’re happy with that,” Brandon said.

“There’s no pressure. For us, it’s all about enjoying the experience and giving it our best shot.

“Obviously, we’d love to win but just being competitive would be a great thing.”

Brandon said some thought had been given to Martinborough entering last year’s competition, but it had not been followed through.

However, when the subject was raised again in recent months there was more interest shown and it was decided to give it a go.

“It really was a matter of why not, the players were keen and so it was a case of let’s do it.”

With three wins from their four Wairarapa division two matches this season, Martinborough are sharing the lead on nine points with Masterton Ziggys who are a tad ahead of them on goal difference.

Brandon has been pleased with the improvement they have shown from week to week.

“We’ve got a few new faces this season and that’s helped us build a pretty useful side,” he said.

“We’re no world beaters but we keep making progress and that’s always a good sign.”

Goalkeeper Karl Cremen has been a mainstay of the Martinborough squad along with another couple of defenders Jason Aitofi and Craig Robinson. Steve Golding in midfield and Carl Whitby up front have impressed.

Martinborough is not the only Wairarapa-based side in this year’s Chatham Cup but they will be the only ones involved in the first round with Central League side, Wairarapa United, having drawn the bye.

Wairarapa United were the cup winners in 2011, beating Napier City Rovers 2-1 in a memorable final played in Palmerston North.

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