Eastern Suburbs are heading to their 10th Chatham Cup final after beating Hamilton Wanderers 1-0 in a tense semi-final at Madills Farm.
The game was decided by a controversial penalty that will be argued about by Wanderers’ Blue Army for years to come.
It was awarded an hour into the game when Suburbs played a clever short corner, allowing captain Michael Built to flick the ball into the area.
As he turned, he was taken down and referee Chris Bennett awarded a penalty.
Amidst protestations from Wanderers players, who argued the foul had taken place outside the box, Bennett conferred with his assistance and again pointed to the spot.
Suburbs’ Stephen Hoyle stepped up to prepare for the penalty but there was an apparent change of mind and Adam Thurston got the job.
With children crammed behind the goal, Thurston calmly struck the ball just inside the post to score, despite the desperate dive of Wanderers goalkeeper Matt Oliver.
— Rod de Lisle (@roddelnz) August 20, 2022
Once ahead, Suburbs seemed content to soak up the Wanderers pressure and get as many players as possible behind the ball.
Wanderers dominated the rest of the match, peppering the Suburbs goalmouth with crosses and a barrage of long throw-ins from Joe Harris.
Goalkeeper Joe Knowles and his defenders held firm.
Five minutes into stoppage time, Bennett blew the final whistle to signal a ground invasion by a horde of children who quickly surrounded players who had run themselves to exhaustion.
Main photo: Jubilant Suburbs players are surrounded by young fans.
Suburbs can now look forward to the final, tentatively set for the weekend of September 10-11, in which they get the chance to join University-Mt Wellington and Christchurch United as the country’s most successful cup winners, with seven trophy wins.
First, they await Sunday’s semi-final between Auckland City and Wellington Olympic to find out who they would need to beat for that seventh cup win.
Game played Saturday August 20, 2022
Eastern Suburbs 1 (Adam Thurston 61′ pen)
Hamilton Wanderers 0
The game was streamed by Eastern Suburbs’ YouTube channel:
The second semi-final takes place on Sunday August 21, 2022.
Auckland City v Wellington Olympic
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 2pm