Papamoa progress in Chatham Cup
Papamoa are safely through to the third round of this season’s Chatham Cup after a courageous 1-0 win against NRFL Premier Division side Bay Olympic.
Despite carrying the tag of underdogs going into the clash, Duncan Lowry’s men braved the challenges posed by top-flight opposition as well as the worsening weather.
In front of a record crowd at Gordon Spratt Reserve, the goalkeeping heroics of Papamoa stopper Ryan Foord kept the scores level before substitute Andrew Copper grabbed the only goal of the game with just eight minutes left.
In overcast conditions, a fiercely-contested first-half saw both sides go close to breaking the deadlock, but some workmanlike defending from Papamoa and another outstanding shift from Cole Peverley helped to settle any early nerves.
Bay Olympic’s height at the back meant they commanded their penalty area for long spells, however Lowry’s front three of Mitchell Hales, Dave Molloy and Strauss Boom fought tirelessly for every ball.
The second period followed a similar pattern, but the light breeze which had greeted the players quickly deteriorated into heavy rain and wind. In what were already demanding conditions, Bay Olympic ramped up the pressure.
The last 20 minutes saw the Aucklanders pepper the home goal, but time and again they were denied by the agility and awareness of Foord, who put in a man-of-the-match display between the posts.
Despite being on the back foot, Papamoa kept believing, and that faith was rewarded on 82 minutes.
A skilfully crafted four-pass move involving Fawwaz Ali,Styles and Mitchell Hales saw Cooper spring free before lifting a sweetly-struck shot over the advancing keeper.
Manager Lowry switched to a back-four to protect the lead, and though he admitted the final eight minutes “felt like an hour”, the Northern Irishman was delighted to see his players keep their composure and progress in the competition.
“My lads gave everything they had,” said Lowry. “It's every junior club’s dream to be giant killers in the Chatham Cup, and today was our cup final - today we lived the dream.
“All credit to Bay Olympic. They sent a full-strength team out, but happily we were up for the challenge.”
And in praise of man of the match Ryan Foord, Papamoa Goalkeeping Coach Gary Darkes added: “Ryan is an incredible student of the game, and this was a great test for him.
“He was under pressure for most of the game, but coped really well. His decision making was excellent and he was the difference between us staying in or going out of the competition.
“We are very lucky to have him in our side, and I'm sure he is destined to play at the very highest level.”
Papamoa FC (3-4-3): Ryan Foord; Campbell Higgins, James Davies, Phillip Fletcher; Cole Peverley, Fawwaz Ali,Styles; Mitchell Hales, Dave Molloy, Strauss Boom. Substitutes: Mathew De Bono, Alex Wilson, Andrew Cooper, Isaac Bright.