Waiheke defeated Oratia 3-2 in the first round of the Chatham Cup, and played far better than the close score suggests.
The Chatham Cup is New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious knockout competition, and is contested annually by every club in the country. Waiheke haven’t enjoyed much luck in the cup in recent years, but played some sparkling football in a thoroughly deserved home win.
With a vocal crowd and strong wind at their backs, the men in red were simply unplayable in an exhilarating first half. Slick passing and aggressive pressing left the visitors chasing shadows, and it was no surprise when Waiheke drew first blood in the eighth minute. Live wire winger Nico Vanina set off on a mazy dribble only to be crudely hacked down in the Oratia box. Claudio Amad coolly side-footed home the resulting penalty and Waiheke had lift off. Amad, Vanina and Alo Villasana dominated the midfield battle while hard-running fullbacks Fede Romania and Facu Miranda provided width and incision on the flanks.
Waiheke doubled their lead in the 32nd minute with an excellent team goal. Sharp interplay from a throw-in gave left winger Mauri Herrera time and space to drive at the heart of Oratia’s panicked defence. His unselfish cutback was deftly swept home by Juan Canay and the large home crowd went wild. In the 44th minute Waiheke could have put the game to bed when another powerful dribble from Vanina again drew a penalty, but Amad’s cheeky spot kick hit the cross bar and Oratia lived to fight another day.
Waiheke held a comfortable two goal lead at the break, and such was their dominance perhaps they felt the game was as good as won.
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