Knockout Cup finalists found
After last weekend’s horrendous weather, a warm and sunny Sunday was a welcome change for the football Knockout Cup semi-finals. This is a ‘must win to advance’ tournament that runs throughout the season and all teams playing were keen to get to the final.
Westland United Women hosted the Dragons for the Cup’s first game at Arthur Fong. Dragons were put on defensive duty from the start with Westland pressing hard on offence with nice passing combinations. Their work paid off as Westland’s Ngawai Tahi slotted in a goal not long into the game. She followed this up with a second to make it 2-0 at half time.
Westland continued the pressure, leaving the Dragons to play defensive-only football. The Dragons felt the absence of their high scoring forward duo, and with dominant defensive play from Westland’s player of the day Jess Jackson, they never really got a look at goal. But they did produce some outstanding defence with Kirsty Macklin having a great game in the back line and rookie goalkeeper Shelly Larson making some impressive saves to earn her the Dragon’s player of the day.
Despite these efforts, Westland added two more to make the final score 4-0. Rhea Villafuente did some nice footwork on the goal line to find Bronwyn Slack in perfect position for a goal scoring finish and Tahi rounded out her hat trick.
In the women’s second game, the top of table Comets came out strong against the Goblins. The Goblins did a great job of soaking up the pressure with brilliant saves from their goalkeeper Kate McCann, earning her player of the day. Rosa Cooper finally found an opening to give the Comets a 1-0 lead at half time.
The Comets came out fast in the second half with Jacinta Borer scoring in the first few minutes. The Goblins created some of their own chances with nice counter attacking but failed to finish on target. Solid defensive work from Kate Campbell earned her the Comets’ player of the day. An own goal from the Goblins and another goal from Lammie Lamason gave the Comets the win at 4-0.
The two ‘top-of -the-table’ women’s teams, Comets and Westland United Women, will now meet in the Knockout Cup final on the last day of the season.
In the men’s Knockout Cup, Westport and Marist provided the most fiercely contested game of the semis, going a full 120 minutes. Marist’s Josh Larsen and Kye Thomson gave them the 2-0 lead until late in the second half. Despite having little time on the clock, Westport refused to give up and it paid off. Midfielder Jamie Floyd scored a free kick from just outside the box followed shortly after by Grant Smith on a header off a corner and the game was suddenly tied. It could have gone either way as Marist keeper Ethan Kelleher had some amazing saves and on the other end, Marist striker Thomson was unlucky not to score his second and the winner. All even at full time meant the game went to extra time.
Overtime stretched both teams as players’ bodies felt the effects of the long game. It looked like it was headed for the dreaded penalty shootout when moments before the end of extra time, Westport striker Given Suleman scored the winner with a great individual effort to dribble through the defence. It was a case of a great game, great spirits, great refereeing and very sore bodies.
Like the women’s league, the men’s Knockout Cup final will be a meeting of the two ‘top of the table’ teams as Westport will take on Paroa, who beat Grey United 5-1 in the other Cup semi. Paroa’s goal scorers with one a piece were Matt Wakeford, Caleb Anderson, Ben Anderson, Kieran Russell and Martin McDonald. Grey’s Paul Kaye earned player of the day. Westland United had to sit this weekend out as they were eliminated in the quarter-final by Paroa.
The main competition starts up again next weekend with Westland United Women hosting Comets at Arthur Fong at 12:00 followed by Goblins vs Dragons at 1:15. For the men’s league, Westport have a home game at Coronation Park against Westland United and Grey United take on Marist at Arthur Fong. Both games are a 2:00 kick off. Paroa have the bye.