Focus: Chatham Cup Kings Birkenhead

Words: ACFC Media

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Today we take a close look at the Chatham Cup record of Sunday's opponents Birkenhead United as they go in search of their third Chatham Cup triumph in five years.

Auckland City FC face a tough task when they face Birkenhead United in the Chatham Cup on Sunday at Shpeherd's Park in Beach Haven at 2pm NZDT.

The 2010's have been a golden age for Birkenhead United with the Paul Hobson-coached side picking up the Lotto NRFL First Division league title in 2012 and following that up with two Chatham Cup triumphs in 2016 and 2018.

United's maiden Chatham Cup victory started with a comfortable 7-2 thrashing of Fencibles United in the third round before they dismantled fellow Aucklanders Western Springs (2-0), East Coast Bays (5-3) and Forrest-Hill Milford (3-0).

Those wins set up a tense semi-final with highly decorated Miramar Rangers, a game United would emerge victorious from with a sensational 3-1 win.

Focus on winning the Chatham Cup for the first time and what it would mean for Birkenhead United was summed up by Hobson in the days leading up to their epic achievement.

"This one means a lot and it would be such a great accolade for the club if we could get our hands on the trophy.

"We'll be preparing like normal, we know if we stick to our game plan we should have a great chance," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"We're aware of their attacking threats but we've managed to deal with a strong front three from Forrest Hill and Miramar so hopefully our defenders will be able to shut them down."

Birkenhead United were seemingly cruising over their Auckland rivals, scoring twice in the first half through Jarrod Smith and leading 2-0 with less than 15 minutes left to play.

But Waitakere City hit back with two quickfire scores in four minutes near the end of regulation time through two Navy Blues players - one former, one current - in Keegan Linderboom and Dylan Manickum to level the score and push the final to extra time.

After a goal-less first period of extra time and with the prospect of a penalty shootout looming, Birkenhead's Ethan Galbraith scored the match-winner in the 111th minute with just 10 men on the park after the goalkeeper dropped a cross under pressure.

Birkenhead United had never made the Chatham Cup final before 2016.

The victory in 2018 consolidated United's reputation as a high calibre Chatham Cup winning side.

As in 2016, United started with three wins over Waiheke United (1-0), Papamoa (5-1) and Western Springs (4-3) before gliding past provincial outfits Wairarapa United (2-1) and Nelson Suburbs (2-0) in the semi-finals.

The final with Western Suburbs was notable for the average age of both sides, quoted as being "the two youngest sides" to contest the final.

Hobson's assessment of their penalty shoot-out triumph was understandably glowing:

"It feels incredible," he told the New Zealand Herald at the time.

"I still can't quite believe it. I didn't fancy us in the penalties, but I felt we deserved it in the end.

"The first half we were so-so but I felt we really got on top in the second half and when it got to penalties we are just happy to come out on top."

Auckland City FC's first ever Chatham Cup campaign continues when the Navy Blues meet Birkenhead United at Shepherd's Park on Sunday 11 July 2021 at 2pm NZDT.



Match Details
Chatham Cup
Sunday 11 July 2021
Birkenhead United v Auckland City FC
Shepherd's Park, Beach Haven
Kick-off: 2.00pm NZDT


R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Ellerslie won 4-0
R4 - v. Forrest Hill Milford won 3-1
R5 - v. East Coast Bays won 2-0
R6 - v. Central United won 3-0
SF - v. Napier City Rovers 1-1 (lost 4-3 on pens)

R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Fencibles United won 7-2
R4 - v. Western Springs won 2-0
R5 - v. East Coast Bays won 5-3
R6 - v. Forrest-Hill Milford won 3-0
SF - v. Miramar Rangers won 3-1
F - v. Waitakere City won 3-2

R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Glenfield Rovers won 4-0
R4 - v. East Coast Bays won 3-1
R5 - v. Three Kings United won 2-1
R6 - v. Onehunga Sports lost 0-3

R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Waiheke United won 1-0
R4 - v. Papamoa won 5-1
R5 - v. Western Springs won 4-3
R6 - v. Wairarapa United won 2-1
SF - v. Nelson Suburbs won 2-0
F - v. Western Suburbs 1-1 (won 5-4 on pens)

R1 - Bye
R2 - Bye
R3 - v. Bay Olympic lost 1-2

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