It was Veni, vidi, vici, as the Wanderers came, saw and conquered Waikato in the bright lights of Hamilton.
Chatham cup preliminary qualifier day began early doors with a Greenlane car park meetup, with car pooling sorted, the team convoy headed down on the long journey to Hamilton, dreaming of a first round trip to Old Trafford or the Pirelli Stadium, but first up were Waikato.
Once everybody had found the ground, and Lee Cumpstone and James Hill had finished on their scenic Lake tour, it was down to business after a rallying pep talk from Chris Williams and Colin Maguire
After a minutes silence to mark ANZAC day, the game finally got under way.
Waikato were out of the blocks the quicker, instantly putting the Wanderers onto the back foot. A succession of corners and free kicks rained down into the back-line, with centre-backs Rob Bent and Lee Cumpstone heading anything in sight early on.
It was the Wanderers who struck first though. From a free kick on the left, Nigel Delaney delivered a sumptuous ball into the box which was dispatched at the near post by James Hill, a rocket of a header if he does say so himself.
After the early goal Wanderers tried to calm the pace of the game down, with the returning Tank Richie Quaine in goals duly taking a minute for every goal kick, Waikato’s frustrations began to show. With Patrick Mc Greal and Shaun Shannon beginning to cause problems down the left, it seemed like only a matter of time until the Wanderers would bag a second.
The next moment of real incident again involved the returning keeper though, rushing out Manual Neuer style, he punched clear, only for his momentum to carry him outside of the box. The referee was straight on the scene and the yellow card shown. With Chris Williams now getting worried on the side line about an unexpected appearance, the match set into a battle for midfield supremacy. With both sides struggling to play football on the bobbly surface, it became a case of who wanted it more. The local side were not used to the Wanderers hustling and harrying, with Tom Williams gleefully bouncing off anybody who came near him. It wasn’t all strength though, Glyn McNulty delighting the partisan home crowd with his flicks and tricks.
The last 5 minutes of the half belonged to Waikato though, who upped the ante hoping for an equalizer before the break. A loose ball in midfield let their bleached striker through, only for his finish to strike the post and roll across the goal mouth. 2 minutes later they were in again, but a moments hesitation allowed time for Dean Barrett to sprint back and make a ‘worldy’ of a tackle which ensured the half finished with the Wanderers 1 up.
After a deep half time discussion on what was needed at half time, Colin Maguire sent the wanderers back out ready to fight for that dream first round tie, and the financial riches that come it offers. Will it be shown on BBC or Sky, just 1 of the questions running through each players head.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the end of the first, a tight tense battle, not helped by what seemed an overly eager whistle happy referee.
With the Wanderers beginning to feel hard done by, a couple more yellow cards were brandished for persistent fouling, Glyn McNulty and Nigel Delaney this time feeling the wrath of the man in black.
With the game into the last 20 minutes the next moment of controversy arose. As Patrick Mc Greal dallied, the Waikato striker nipped in, grabbed a handful of shorts, and tripped. With the fullback down everybody stopped for the clear foul, only for the referee to unbelievably wave play on. The striker swung a toe and just like that Waikato were somewhat unfairly level.
The Wanderers were now raging and ready to instill there own form of retribution, however an action replay occurred just minutes later, this time Lee Cumpstone got caught on the ball, and then headbutted in the nose, and the Waikato winger raced through. As Cumpstone rolled around in a daze, the Wanderers players screamed for the game to stop, but managed to survive the attack. Dean Barrett picking up a yellow for his ‘discussion’ with the referee about the incident. After Cumpstone was finally allowed back onto the pitch, John O’Lone decided to apply some of his own retribution to the headbutter, with the point of his elbow. Cheers buddy smile emoticon
Into the last 5 minutes the game was anybodys, with Peter Kenei now on the field, the Wanderers still fancied their chances, and with 85 minutes on the clock they got there just rewards. A string of corners finally paying dividends, when a wicked cross from Patrick Mc Greal was nodded in by Terry Butcher himself (Nigel Delaney). The home crowd was stunned as the Wanderers Ultras on the side danced with joy.
As the game went into injury time (7 minutes), Jonathan McNelis and Vlad Macoviciuc came on to try and see it out, Jonathan McNelis first touch a dart in the corner to run down the clock…….and then the whistle blew.
A historic victory for the Wanderers as they march on into the first round proper for the first time in their history.
All eyes on the draw now…..
Up the Wanderers!!!