Onehunga Sports are the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Champions for the first time after a thrilling final was played out against Central United in bitterly cold conditions in Auckland.
The Hiroshi Miyazawa-side fought back from being a goal down on three occasions to finish 3-3 at the end of full time and extra time. They went on to defeat Central United 6-5 on penalties in one of the all-time great finals in the 90th ISPS Handa Chatham Cup.
In a tense penalty shootout, with the first six attempts from Onehunga finding the back of the net, it was a save from Louie Caunter against Central’s Albert Riera which proved the defining moment.
Onehunga followed Birkenhead United’s example from last year in winning one of New Zealand oldest sporting trophies, the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup for the first time and in doing so completed a rare league-cup double.
With his team chanting in the changing rooms behind him, Hiroshi Miyazawa was lost for words in the aftermath of completing a perfect season.
“There are no words for how I am feeling right now,” he said. “We couldn’t control the game at all, but our boys did an unbelievable job. I didn’t do anything from the side-lines. The boys did it. Day by day from day one this team has been about hard work and every opportunity they gave it 100 percent and that came through today.”
Five-time champions Central United, stacked with plenty of National League experience, came up against an in-form and confident Onehunga Sports who were playing in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final for the first time.
Central United coach Aaron McFarland described it as the most important trophy to his club, while Onehunga Sports manager Miyazawa said there was still plenty of hunger in his side after winning the NRFL Premier League title. It was a fascinating script and that is how it played out.
For the first 45 minutes, the seasoned campaigners controlled the match superbly. Nicholas Zambrano had a number of early chances and converted one in the 20th minute on the back of a superb team move which was laid on by a Ignacio Machuca cross. At that stage it looked like the old heads would dictate terms. They held that lead at half-time and were delivering a composed and professional performance, but there was plenty of drama to come in the second half.
Shortly after the break, Onehunga chased the game like men possessed. The Ross Havilland-captained team got their equaliser through sheer will when Sean Lovemore found space in the box on the back of a ball from Andrew Milne and his shot had just enough on it to beat Danyon Drake in goal. All of the sudden the green army, who had been drowned out by calls of “Yellow Yellow” found their voice. All of a sudden Onehunga had belief.
Central showed their class when they regathered themselves and went down the other end – a searching run from Regont Murati broke Onehunga open and he cut back for Seamus Ryder to finish and gain the lead again.
Onehunga Sports rallied immediately. Central United were guilty of ball watching when Thomas Leabourn-Boss played to the whistle, kept the ball in just and finished from an acute angle to get back on level terms and send his team’s fans mental.
Again Central took the lead when Emiliano Tade produced some individual brilliance at the by-line and found space for Ryder to head home for his second within seven minutes.
Again, Onehunga Sports responded with probably their best goal of the afternoon on the counter-attack. A well-worked team move saw Leabourn-Boss in space once again and he was good enough to get the NRFL Premier League champions back to level terms at 3-3. With nine minutes of regulation time to play it proved a massive moment in the match.
Both teams had their chances in extra-time as the rain pelted down on a cold evening at QBE Stadium but they could not convert. Still no-one was going anywhere as the penalty shootout was gripping viewing and in the end Onehunga Sports made history.
Please find attached audio from an interview with Hiroshi Miyazawa following his team’s historic win of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup
ISPS Handa Chatham Cup Final
Central United 3 (Nicholas Zambrano 20’, Seamus Ryder 71, 78’) Onehunga Sports 3 (Sean Lovemore 59’, Thomas Leabourn-Boss 72’, 81’) HT 1-0 – Onehunga Sports won 6-5 on penalties
Central United 1. Danyon Drake (GK), 3. Takuya Iwata, 4. Makro Dordevic, 5. Angel Berlanga, 7. Mario Ilich, 8. Dean Lausev (19. Albert Riera 62’), 9. Regont Murati, 15. Ignacio Machuca (2. Seamus Ryder 56’), 17. Reid Drake, 18. Nicholas Zambrano (13. Maro Bonsu-Maro 88’), 20 Emiliano Tade
Subs not used 6. Alfie Rogers, 12. Connor Cahill-Fahey, 21. Sione Fa’apoi, 24. Matt Hammett
Coach Aaron McFarland
Onehunga Sports 45. Lewis Caunter (GK), 4. Ross Havilland, 6. Jordan Vale, 7. Jack Caunter, 9. Sean Lovemore, 10. Jake Porter (11. Max Mata, 91’), 16. Thomas Leabourn-Boss (17. Charlie Hoyle 102’), 20. Shohei Moriyasu (29. Boon Ozawa, 106’), 21. Calvin Opperman, 22. Andrew Milne, 24. Harshae Raniga
Subs not used: 30. Joseph Dawkins, 31. Hugo Kidd, 32. Boyd Curry, 13. Robert Martinkovic (GK)
Coach Hiroshi Miyazawa