Chatham Cup: Birkenhead United focused for final

Birkenhead's Jarrod Smith celebrates his goal. Chatham Cup Semi Final. Birkenhead United v Miramar Rangers. Photo / Photosport.
Birkenhead's Jarrod Smith celebrates his goal. Chatham Cup Semi Final. Birkenhead United v Miramar Rangers. Photo / Photosport.

Birkenhead United will look to make history for the second time in two weeks after making their inaugural Chatham Cup final, which will see them take on newly promoted NRFL Premier League side Waitakere City at QBE Stadium in Albany on Sunday.

The Red and White army of supporters have been waiting for this day for a number of years (the club was first founded in 1963) and they are expected to arrive in huge numbers on Sunday as their players look to become club legends.

If they can reach those heights and lift the coveted Chatham Cup on Sunday evening, it will be a first for Paul Hobson's side, an achievement he believes will overtake any previous success the club has achieved.

"We've performed well at the 17's and 19's but we haven't quite been able to get over the line yet for the seniors," Hobson said from team training. "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."

Hobson knows that will not be an easy feat against a classy Waitakere City outfit. The three-time Chatham Cup winners have enjoyed a rich vein of form this season, going through the men's Northern Division One League unbeaten and getting promoted back to the top flight, which will see them competing against Birkenhead United next year.

Hobson is well aware of the threat their finals opponent, who managed to put six goals past Three Kings United to make the final, and is preparing for an extremely tough match.

"We'll be preparing like normal, we know if we stick to our game plan we should have a great chance," he said. "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 have been on an impressive run of their own in the Chatham Cup. In their last five games they have defeated Miramar Rangers (3 - 1), Forrest Hill Milford United AFC (3- 0), East Coast Bays AFC (5 - 3), Western Springs AFC (2-0) and Fencibles United AFC (7-2) to make their first final. They have scoring threats across the park.

The team is expecting a fever-pitch atmosphere like they experienced at their home ground two weeks ago when they defeated four-time champions Miramar in the afternoon sun.

The Waitakere City attack has caused problems for a number of teams this season but it is something Birkenhead defender David Parkinson is ready for after having played previously with a number of the Waitakere players.

"A few of us boys have played with some of the Waitak boys before so we're aware of the talent they possess," said Parkinson. "Defence will be something we need to focus on because they've got some big attacking threats who have been scoring goals for fun. If you look at the likes of their attackers, where they have Dylan [Manickum] on one wing who plays for the Futsal Whites, Keegan [Linderboom] on the other who is very powerful and Hago [Anthony Hagan] up top who is regarded as one of the more technically gifted players in New Zealand football. It's definitely an area we'll have to look to shut down early so they don't get any momentum."

Parkinson, one of the more experienced members who was involved in the side that lost narrowly in the semi-finals last year, said his side will not get overwhelmed by the occasion. They need to focus on delivering a performance similar to the ones that have seen them go on an undefeated run in the past eight matches.

"We don't want to focus too much on the other team, we do have some more experienced players in the side but none that have played in a final so I guess it's important for us to keep our composure and not let the occasion put us out of sync," he said. "If we stick to our game plan and play the way we have been in the last few weeks, then it should be a performance worthy of a championship."

New Zealand Football has confirmed the Chatham Cup and New Zealand Women's Knockout Cup Finals will be shown live on SKY Sport.

Two-time defending champions Glenfield Rovers will face Forrest Hill Milford United in the NZ Women's Knockout Cup Final at 12pm on Sunday September 11 at QBE Stadium in Albany and will be followed by Birkenhead United against Waitakere City in the Chatham Cup Final at 3:30pm.

National Cup Finals Fact Box
When: Sunday September 11, 2016
Where: QBE Stadium, Albany
Women's Knockout Cup Final 12pm - Glenfield Rovers v Forrest Hill Milford United
Chatham Cup Final 3pm - Birkenhead United v Waitakere City
Live on SKY Sport

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