Birkenhead beat Miramar to setup Chatham Cup final against Waitakere
Birkenhead United will meet Waitakere City in the Chatham Cup final.
Waitakere were rampant in their 6-1 semifinal win over Three Kings United at Fred Taylor Park on Sunday, while Birkenhead had to work a little harder at Shepherds Park before winning 3-1 against Miramar Rangers.
The first half of the Birkenhead-Miramar clash featured some beautiful, end-to-end football from both sides, peppered with the odd robust challenge.
Birkenhead opened the scoring in the first five minutes from a corner.
Jarrod Smith rose best at the near post to fire home a great header which Miramar keeper Dan Clarke had no chance of stopping.
Miramar overcame the early setback to to produce a good 20-minute spell of play.
Niko Kirwan got them back level midway through the half, beating his man to a header at the near post from a freekick on the right flank.
But parity lasted just four minutes, as Godwin Darkwa was fed the ball in the box, before producing a stunning turn to beat his defender and lay on a good finish past Clarke.
Andy Bevin had a chance to equalise 10 minutes before halftime when making a great run down the left flank but fired his shot wide at the near post.
BIrkenhead had similarly good chances to extend their lead moments later, but first Clarke made a good save before a header from the resulting corner was cleared off the line.
Bevin had another chance to draw his side level within the first 10 minutes of the second half, but his header went wide of the goal.
Miramar had a shout for a penalty turned down soon after when Ben Harris appeared to be tripped in the box, with referee Anthony Riley instead awarding Birkenhead a freekick for a foul in the leadup.
Birkenhead keeper Damian Hirst produced a stunning save to keep out a Miramar freekick with 20 minutes to go, but from there it was all Birkenhead.
The Auckland side squandered a golden chance to put themselves further in front as two players failed to find the back of the net from close range amid desperate defending from Miramar.
A few more chances went begging before substitute and former Lower Hutt City player Ethan Galbraith finally put the tie beyond doubt, firing home from close range in the final 10 minutes to send Birkenhead into their first Chatham Cup final.
They will meet Waitakere in the decider at North Harbour Stadium on September 11 after Waitakere scored three goals in each half from six different scorers to sweep past Three Kings United.
On Saturday, Upper Hutt City pushed two-time defending women's Knockout Cup champions Glenfield Rovers all the way in their semifinal.
It took a piece of individual brilliance from Katie Rood midway through the second half for Glenfield to snatch the 1-0 win.
Forrest Hill Milford beat Cashmere Technical 6-0 in the other semifinal to setup an all-North Shore final.
AT A GLANCE
Chatham Cup semifinals
Birkenhead United 3 (Jarrod Smith, Godwin Darkwa, Ethan Galbraith) Miramar Rangers 1 (Niko Kirwan). HT: 2-1.
Waitakere City 6 (Paul Rhodes, Anthony Hagan, Harrison Sage, Dylan Manickum, James Olausen, Keegan Linderboom) Three Kings United 1 (Max Manko) . HT: 3-0.
Women's Knockout Cup Semi-Finals
Forrest Hill Milford United 6 (Samantha Tawharu, Malia Steinmetz, Emma Rolston, Tayla Christensen 3) Cashmere Technical 0. HT: 1-0.
Glenfield Rovers 1 (Katie Rood) Upper Hutt City 0. HT: 0-0.