Azariah Soromon’s pass helped set up a goal in the 27th minute. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

FOOTBALL

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The Wairarapa United men’s team are back in the quarterfinals of the Chatham Cup knockout competition.

United hosted Stop Out Sports Club at Memorial Park in Masterton on Saturday in a fourth round match, and emerged victorious in a tense clash that went to extra time.

The 2-1 result could so easily have ended more heavily in United’s favour, but they missed several opportunities to put the result beyond doubt before the end of 90 minutes.

In the 27th minute, United’s Azariah Soromon put a simple pass across the Stop Out keeper for striker Hamish Watson to tap the ball into the net.

Stop Out’s defenders appealed for an offside call, but it wasn’t to be as Watson’s timing looked to be inch-perfect.

It was the first highlight in a wonderful match for Watson, who stepped up in the absence of Paul Ifill to lead the team from the front.

The second half was dominated by United, and they will need to be more clinical with their finishing in their next match if they want to emulate their lone Chatham Cup title, which was won in 2011.

With seven minutes left in regular time, Soromon found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but failed to find the finishing touch that would have secured the win.

That miss proved especially costly a few moments later, when Stop Out worked their way into an attacking position and were awarded a penalty after United’s Cory Chettleburgh couldn’t get his arm out of the way of the ball.

The successful penalty by Luis Corrales levelled the scores at 1-1 and made for a frantic final five minutes as both teams chased the winning goal.

Neither team could find the crucial strike, however, and the match went into extra time.

As the second half of extra time started, United launched an attack and Watson worked his way into the box.

He was brought down and the referee had no choice but to award a penalty, and he stepped up to the mark with United’s hopes of reaching the quarterfinals resting squarely on his shoulders.

He confidently drilled the ball into the back of the net, and United held on for a dramatic, but deserved, win.

United captain Cam Lindsay knows they will have to be more clinical in their quarterfinal.

“We made it hard for ourselves at times and certainly had chances to clinch it during the 90 minutes.

“To go to extra time was a little bit nervy but I thought we actually looked pretty comfortable.”

If the match had been level at the end of extra time the teams would have gone to penalties, and that was something United had been preparing for.

“We have been practising penalties the last couple of trainings, but when it goes to penalties it’s sort of anyone’s game, so it was good to get it done and dusted before then,” Lindsay said.

United are hopeful Ifill may be back from his injury for the quaterfinal match, and Lindsay said that would provide a big boost to the side.

“He’s a big name and even though he’s a little bit older, he’s one of our most consistent players.

“To get the job done without him was really pleasing, but to know we may have him coming back is really good for us as well.”

Wellington victorious in quarter final clash

Meanwhile, the Wairarapa United women’s team had their Kate Sheppard Cup ambitions come to an end on Saturday when they lost 1-3 to Wellington United in their quarterfinal clash in Wellington.

Wellington United have been the form team in this year’s Capital Football W-League competition, winning 10 of their 11 games to date and drawing one match with Wairarapa United.

Anna McPhie opened the scoring for Wairarapa in just the sixth minute, when she rounded the goalkeeper and put the ball into the back of the net.

They managed to hold on to that lead until halftime, and there was plenty of hope they might finally be able to get a win over Wellington.

But Wellington started strongly in the second half and started to put plenty of pressure on the Wairarapa defence.

Eventually, that pressure was too much for Wairarapa to contain as a cross was headed into the goal in the 52nd minute.

Wellington took their first lead of the match in the 67th minute with another well-taken goal, and then added a third with fulltime approaching to put the result beyond doubt.

The win means Wellington will advance to the semifinals of the knockout tournament, while Wairarapa’s run has come to an end.

They will now turn their attention back to the W-League, where they still have a small chance of running Wellington down to take the title.

With four matches left to play, Wairarapa trail Wellington by five points.

The two teams will meet again in the penultimate round on August 11, and Wairarapa will most likely have to win that match, and also hope somebody else can beat Wellington, to have any chance of claiming the title.

This weekend they will take on Upper Hutt City in Upper Hutt, while Wellington will tackle bottom-placed Seatoun in a match they will be expected to win comfortably.