In a week where the football world was celebrating comebacks in cup competitions, Wanaka AFC mounted a comeback of their own, overcoming a two-goal deficit to beat Geraldine 3-2 in the opening round of the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup.
Ian Bell’s side trailed for most of the match to a pair of goals from Geraldine striker German Arujo Copette at the Rec Centre, but they recovered thanks to a man-of-the-match performance from highly rated midfielder Barry Grehan and the return to form of striker Steve Pleskun.
Geraldine had taken the lead early when Copette snuck through the Wanaka offside trap to neatly tuck away his strike from just inside the box. In a carbon copy of his first goal, Copette again struck, to give the visitors a two-goal lead at the break.
The second half saw Wanaka beginning to control possession and on the hour mark Grehan floated an exquisite free kick into the opposition 18-yard box which Pleskun rose to head home. Grehan then had a hand in the equaliser as his deflected shot rebounded to the feet of youngster Weston Bell who tapped home from six yards with 10 minutes to play.
Geraldine, relying on the counter attack, hoped to regain the lead but Wanaka keeper Britton Dowling again showed his class with several key saves stifling the opposition attacks.
With scores level and extra time looming Pleskun found himself with space in the opposition final third, Geraldine keeper Brian Martin closed quickly but Pleskun squeezed the winner past him and into the corner of the goal.
The visitors put up a valiant effort and will be disappointed they couldn't hold onto their lead, in what was a classic cup game. Wanaka will now turn their attention towards a trip to Dunedin to face Green Island, as they await the draw for the second round.
The results for the Seniors and Senior Reserves went more or less the same as they have in previous weeks, matching their opposition in areas of the game but not being able to perform to a high enough level for the full 90 minutes.
Hosting the Queenstown Falcons, the Seniors scored via Everton Furby but then conceded within minutes of taking the lead. The following ten minutes were chaotic at best with both teams having a player sent off. The scores remained level until the 60th minute when the Falcons scored twice in quick succession and round out the clash with three more goals, the match ending 6-1 to the visitors.
The Senior Reserves travelled to Alexandra aiming to lift themselves off the bottom of the Division 2 table. Despite matching their hosts for much of the game, the Reserves conceded at either end of the second half to lose 2-0.