Cambridge came within a whisker of causing one of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup’s big upsets when the Reds lost 5-4 in extra time to top Auckland club Glenfield Rovers.
The Reds almost forced the two-hour cup tie to penalties with several near misses as the Aucklanders tired in front of a vocal home support at John Kerkhof Park.
The game had everything deserving of a cup tie.
Rovers arrived with an array of names familiar to Cambridge spectators – former WaiBOP United players such as brothers Danyon and Reid Drake, Wade Maloney, Alexis Varela and led by former All White Chad Coombes.
But the young Reds were not fazed and quickly went at the visitors who play their league football two divisions higher, in the Northern League Premier competition.
Marcelo Sosa, another former WaiBOP United player, opened the scoring for Cambridge with a 19th minute penalty after a Rovers defender was judged to have handled the ball.
Glenfield fought back and took the lead with two goals in a four-minute burst.
First, Jason Quinlan found the net before an own goal provided the second in the 26th minute.
At that stage, Cambridge could have been tempted to bow to the pressure but instead, the Reds fired up.
Josh Clarkin was proving a handful for the Rovers defence and he ably set up Zach Mayo for a shot in the 33rd minute. Mayo struck it sweetly to draw the teams level.
That’s how the teams turned around at the interval.
Ten minutes after the break, Quinlan put the Aucklanders ahead again.
And when Rovers went 4-2 up in the 82nd minute, with a goal by substitute Jamie Mason, the tie looked as good as over.
Cambridge have shown this season an ability to fight for the full game, and have won four of their league matches with goals in the last few minutes.
Somehow, they found the spirit and skill to find two more goals in the dying minutes.
Substitute Callum MacLeod scored in the 83rd minute – on the pitch for only two minutes at that stage – and Josh Clarkin deservedly found his side’s fourth goal with just a minute of normal time remaining.
Referee Andy Holdsworth blew for the end of normal time with the teams locked 4-4.
In extra time, Cambridge created the most chances and were the fitter of the two sides.
But one crucial chance, snapped up by Rovers’ Mason midway through the first spell of extra time, determined the outcome.
Up 5-4, Rovers cannily played out time, taking the ball into the corner and using up as much of the clock as they could.
When the game was finally over, both sets of supporters applauded the players for delivering one of the most entertaining matches seen at John Kerkhof Park in many seasons.
Once again, Cambridge have shown they can punch above their weight when it comes to performances in the Chatham Cup, New Zealand’s oldest club competition.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s next year …
Mascots & ball boys/girls
Our thanks to the boys and girls who did an excellent job in cold and wet conditions.
Photo gallery 1
The following images were taken by our club’s official photographer Louis Roberts:
Photo gallery 2
Northern/Auckland/WaiBOP results from the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup second round:
Thursday 30 May
Nelson Suburbs 7 (Ryan Stewart 2, James McClay, Mark Johnston, Cameron Gordon 3)
Friday 31 May
Western Springs 5 (Myer Bevan 2, Vincent Pineau, Oscar Browne, Sam Funnell)
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Tommy Semmy 2)
Metro 9 (Leo Shin, Flynn Letford, Mario Aroca 2, Walid Omar Hassani 2, Aidan Misquita, Josh Dayal 2)
Te Atatu 2 (Ryan Sabich, Dan Gates)
Saturday 1 June
Taupo 2 (Jordan Lamb 2)
Albany United 3 (Jack Beguely, Thomson Nkoy 2)
Zamantix Rovers 0
Franklin United 2 (Jake McCoy, Stefan van der Heijden)
Melville United 7 (Marc Evans 2, Josh Davies, Craig Pritchard, Liam Steffert, Logan Wisnewski 2)
Claudelands Rovers 0
Waitakere City 2 (Dylan Manickum, Matthew Hearn)
Ellerslie 1 (Dylan Horgan)
Fencibles United 1 (Troy Watson)
Eastern Suburbs 5 (Kingsley Sinclair 2, Arzan Todywalla, Hayden Johns, Tim Payne)
Cambridge 4 (Marcelo Sosa pen, Zach Mayo, Callum Macleod, Josh Clarkin)
Glenfield Rovers 5 (Jason Quinlan 2, own goal, Jamie Mason 2)
HT: 2-2 FT: 4-4 AET 4-5.
Bay Olympic 2 (Jared Colligan, own goal)
Birkenhead United 1 (Julian Stevenson)
Takapuna 1 (Matt Hawke)
Onehunga Sports 4 (Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, Kenta Saito, Jo Dawkins, Sean Lovemore)
Tauranga City 0
Forrest Hill Milford United 4 (Trent Mayes, Yousif Ali, Jaydyn Englefield 2 inc. pen)
Manukau United 13 (Salah Bahiss 2, Andre Estay 4, Mohamedoateiku Koike 3, Jama Boss 4)
Onehunga Mangere United 2 (Gino Vuksanlekaj 2)
East Coast Bays 5 (Kieran McMinn 2, Declan Sweeney, Callum Harrison, Oscar Garcia)
Central United 3 (Nicolas Zambrano, Deandre Vollenhoven, Matthew Ellis)
Oratia United 0
Sunday 2 June
Mt Albert Ponsonby 5 (Marshall Gurney, Federico Bono 2, Magi Mas Manresa 2)
Papatoetoe 1 (Alex Saniel)
Monday 3 June
Waikato Unicol 1 (Krishaant Singh)
North Shore United 6 (Godwin Darkwa, Roussin Nkoy, Armin Pasagic, own goal, Dylan Stansfield, Adam New)