An Upper Hutt City player beats Cameron Lindsay to the ball. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Wairarapa United crashed out of the Chatham Cup with a disappointing 0-3 loss to Upper Hutt City at Memorial Park on Saturday night.

Although United are bottom-of-the-table in the Central League, they went into the clash against the Capital Premier League leaders confident of winning their first match of the season.

However, three goals in the second half had the 2011 champions and 2017 and 2018 quarter-finalists leave the competition in round one, their earliest exit for many years.

United held their own in the first half and dominated for long periods but were unable to capitalise on their advantage.

A brilliant one-on-one save by young goalkeeper Matt King denied Upper Hutt and assured United would go into the halftime break with some hope of pushing on for a victory.

That wasn’t the case though as the visitors opened the scoring with a well-taken goal.

That lifted the confidence of the Upper Hutt players and appeared to knock the stuffing out of the home team.

From then the visitors took control and passed and ran through a dispirited United team with ease.

Even the introduction of veteran Paul Ifill, with 20 minutes to play, couldn’t lift the team and Upper Hutt sealed a comprehensive victory with a goal in the 90th minute and from a free kick after 97 minutes.

Ifill admitted United were well below what is required at that level.

“We were poor, we didn’t create enough chances,” he said. “I probably should’ve come on 10 minutes earlier. But it wasn’t good enough overall.

“When they went a goal up, our heads went down, and we didn’t compete. I was not happy with the work rate. It is a setback.”

Ifill said King, who had been sick throughout the week, was outstanding in goal and kept the team in the game. He also praised 15-year old Riley Grover, who played at right back, and acquitted himself well on his debut.

It doesn’t get any easier for United. Their next fixture is in the Central League at home against Miramar Rangers, with Ifill and captain Daniel Allen set to miss the match.