There was plenty of action and drama in sun-drenched Miramar yesterday.
Four goals, three red cards in the space of three minutes, all the niggle and tension you'd expect of a Chatham Cup quarterfinal derby, and a dodgy penalty to boot.
And at the end of it all, 10-man Miramar Rangers won through to the semifinals, prevailing 3-1 against nine-man Wellington United before a bumper crowd of up to 1000 fans at David Farrington Park.
Three-time cup winners Miramar join Auckland sides East Coast Bays and Bay Olympic and Dunedin club Caversham in the final four – the draw for the August 14-15 semifinals will be made tomorrow – but they were made to fight by a plucky United side that is much better than its fifth placing in the second division suggests.
Miramar coach Matt Calcott was left in no doubt his team would have to be better if it wants to add a fourth cup title to its club honours board.
"We were average, we weren't at our best and we didn't pass the ball as well as we had done in the last few weeks," he said.
"There were probably a few nerves from guys who haven't played in a Chatham Cup quarterfinal. We got better as the game opened up in the second half.
"We'll have to improve, but we've got some tough league games over the next few weeks which will help us."
At halftime, with the home team leading 2-0, the match appeared to be over.
But United hit back through a Tim Schaeffers own goal in the 53rd minute and were right in the match at 2-1 before referee Matt Conger got into his work, sending off three players inside three minutes.
Craig Alderdice (United) and John Sutherland (Miramar) both took early showers following an off-the-ball incident in the 70th minute. Alderdice was shown a straight red card and Sutherland received his second yellow.
Three minutes later United's other central defender, Trent Watson, was marched after a second yellow card offence. It all but ended United's spirited challenge, though impressive Argentinian Emiliano Tade and evergreen player-coach Graham Little ran their socks off searching for an equaliser before substitute Dave Johnston sealed a 3-1 win with a neat one-touch finish as United were exposed on the break.
Earlier, Miramar had gone 2-0 up after Campbell Parkin rammed home from close range following a corner and Sutherland converted a dodgy penalty.
United goalkeeper Sacha Nathu clearly won the ball as Dom Rowe attempted to round him, though Conger adjudged Nathu to have brought the striker down.
Elsewhere, Jack Beguely scored in the third minute of stoppage time to hand East Coast Bays a 2-1 win against Glenfield Rovers, while Bay Olympic eased past Forrest Hill Milford 2-0.
The most extraordinary match was in Christchurch, with Caversham scoring five goals in extra time to beat Ferrymead Bays 7-3. The scores were level 2-2 at fulltime.
- The Dominion Post
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