A hat-trick from skipper Patrick Woodlock inspired Cambridge to an emphatic 8-1 win against Melville United to retain leadership of football’s Loaded WaiBOP Premiership. Cambridge’s ninth win in a row ensured the Reds stayed two points ahead of title chasers Waikato Unicol who scraped home 1-0 against bottom-placed Papamoa.
Now the team will get the chance to lift the WaiBOP Federation Challenge Shield this coming weekend when the Reds travel to West Hamilton United on Saturday for a fixture in the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership.
The competition works on similar rules to rugby’s Ranfurly Shield, with the holders required to defend the shield when playing at home. It is contestable by all clubs in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region. Cambridge last held the shield two years ago and the club will be keen to see it back in the trophy cabinet at John Kerkhof Park. The team has already demonstrated a good chance of winning following their 8-1 win against Melville United on Saturday.
Playing in bright sunshine at John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge took the lead in the 10th minute when Woodlock scored from the penalty spot. After 35 minutes, Cambridge were awarded a second penalty but Woodlock’s shot was saved. After conferring with his assistant, the referee ruled the goalkeeper had moved off his line and ordered the spot kick to be retaken. Woodlock made no mistake with the second effort.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Josh Clarkin put Cambridge 3-0 up, and Woodlock was unlucky not to add his third goal when a shot was well saved, and then scrambled clear. In the second half, Melville’s resistance gradually crumbled, especially when a red card saw the visitors reduced to 10 men for the last 40 minutes. With 20 minutes to go, Woodlock completed his hat-trick and the floodgates opened.
Callum MacLeod scored two almost-identical goals, calmly beating the ‘keeper when cleverly running into space with only the ‘keeper to beat. In the 85th minute, Josh Clarkin made it 7-0. A defensive misunderstanding presented Melville with a consolation goal by Alex Walters. As the game entered added time, Cambridge’s leading goalscorer, Donovan Latham, finally joined the scoresheet with a well-deserved and well-taken goal.
In the early game, Cambridge strengthened their claims to the WaiBOP Championship title with a 3-1 win against fifth-placed Tokoroa at John Kerkhof Park. The win gives Cambridge a five-point buffer from the chasing pack led by Waikato Unicol who lost 4-3 at Hamilton Wanderers.
Cambridge got off to a poor start, allowing Tokoroa to take an early lead. But striker Adam Brady levelled the scores in the 23rd minute and the sides turned round at 1-1. Cambridge eventually asserted themselves with a 10-minute burst when Blerin Budla (71st minute) and James Cakebread (80th minute) found the net. Cakebread and a Tokoroa player were sent off in the 82nd minute, and the teams played out a tense finish to the match before Cambridge sealed the league points.
In the Waikato men’s A division, Cambridge lost 2-1 at Eastern City despite a second half fightback. The Hamilton side went 2-0 up before the break but Cambridge held their own in the second spell and Kurt von Keisenberg grabbed a goal for the visitors as the match went into added time.
Cambridge’s division B team lost 1-0 to league leaders Claudelands Rovers in a tight match at John Kerkhof Park. The result leaves the promoted Cambridge side in fourth place but no longer in the title chase. Instead, the team can still win silverware as they are in the semi-finals of the Soccer Shop Waikato Cup on August 12.
The Waikato D2 team played out a five-goal thriller at John Kerkhof Park but lost 3-2 to a late goal from Te Aroha Cobras. The match was made notable by Te Aroha goal which must rank as one of the longest strikes seen in Cambridge – a 55-metre belter from a defender that flew high and into the Cambridge goal on the full.
The D1s had a bye. Meanwhile, Cambridge lost their 100% winning record in the WaiBOP Women’s Premier League with a 5-0 loss at Whakatane Town. The result means Cambridge’s title hopes depend on a win against leaders Tauranga City United who won their fourth game in a row.
Coach Andrew Taylor said Whakatane took all their chances while Cambridge had an off-day, being outplayed by the Bay team. One positive was the performance of Hill Homes Player of the Day Irish Harterink.
The women’s Division B team lost 8-0 at Mangokino. The U-12 boys WaiBOP Federation team lost 8-2 at Papamoa, after trailing 4-0 at half-time.