Tui Dugan [green] scored Wairarapa United’s winner. PHOTOS/FILE
Captain Tui Dugan steered Tumu ITM Wairarapa United into the Kelly Cup final on Monday night when she scored a late goal against Petone.
Both teams struggled with the tricky winds at Maidstone Park, Upper Hutt, and United looked to be up against it in the second half after playing with the breeze in the first period and failing to score.
United coach Paul Ifill said the first half was probably the best the team had played, but they couldn’t find a way past Petone goalkeeper Ariana Gray, who played a ‘blinder’.
“We took a while to find our rhythm, but once we got going, we were very good,” he said.“We were missing Amber Phillips, so Flo Macintyre played at centreback and was outstanding, and Ella Innes started in midfield and had a great game.”
Dugan finally made the vital breakthrough to set up a nail-biting final 10 minutes.
Petone pushed hard to find an equaliser and forced numerous corners, but the United defence held together.
“After we scored, Paul called me over, and he said we’ve just got to stay composed and play our game, so we weren’t going to park the bus, as I thought we were playing well the way we were playing,” Dugan said.
“We stuck to it, and it worked out, but it got a bit shaky at the end there.”
Who United play in the final, initially scheduled for Sunday, remains up in the air.
In the North Wellington-Waterside-Karori semifinal at Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville finished scoreless and the players were partway through the penalty shootout when the lights went out, and could not be turned on again.
The game will now have to be replayed, with the final likely to be rescheduled.