Reds pick up fourth big football title

Cambridge, in their alternate blue strip, raise celebrate their WaiBOP Premiership title. Back row (from left): Gerard Hay, Mason Woodall, Joshua Clarkin, Daniel Clarkin, Kieran Hill, Nathan Claridge, Theo Petrolpolous, Mike Woodlock (coach), Kim Brierley (goalkeeper coach), Andrew Taylor. Front: Tom Woutersen, Callum MacLeod, Patrick Woodlock (captain), Fraser Nicholls, Kyle Stead, Donovan Latham. Photo – Louis Roberts.

Cambridge are the football champions of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty. With an emphatic 7-0 win against local rivals Te Awamutu, Cambridge secured the region’s 2017 Loaded WaiBOP Premiership title with a game to spare. The title is the fourth major success achieved by the club’s senior teams this season, as well as:

Winning the 2017 WaiBOP Championship, the second highest level of the region’s sport behind the Premiership, winning of the 2017 Waikato Women’s League, and retaining the WaiBOP Challenge Shield.

The club also has the opportunity to win the Soccer Shop Waikato Cup with its Waikato B team playing Otorohanga in the final on Saturday (September 16) after the match was postponed last weekend.

Cambridge’s Premiership win means the club now gets the chance to play Auckland club Beachlands-Maraetai in a two-legged play-off for a place in next year’s Northern League. The club narrowly lost a similar play-off in 2015 after it last won the WaiBOP Premiership, and the squad will be keen to make up for that disappointment.

Certainly, the Cambridge team showed its class at Te Awamutu’s Anchor Park, coasting to an easy victory in blustery conditions. The home side held Cambridge for 22 minutes before pressure got the better of them and Callum MacLeod found the net from a Daniel Clarkin cross.

Cambridge striker Callum MacLeod celebrates opening the scoring. Photo – Louis Roberts.

Within six minutes, Cambridge had raced to a 3-0 lead with goals from Tom Woutersen in a goalmouth scramble and then skipper Patrick Woodlock with a powerful header. That’s how the score stayed until midway through the second half when leading scorer Donovan Latham found the net. His effort started a late rout of a tiring Te Awamutu side, with Josh Clarkin heading home in the 75th minute, Woutersen poaching a goal from close and Latham finishing the job with his second in the dying minutes.

The win extended Cambridge’s unbeaten run to 15 matches, with 43 points taken from a possible 45. The side plays its last Premiership fixture at Melville United next weekend.

With the WaiBOP Championship title already won, Cambridge’s second team almost spoiled its nine-match unbeaten run with a poor first half in their game at Te Awamutu, allowing the home side to race to a 3-0 half-time lead through Kieran Ashburner, Loui Ashburner and Jamie Bowen.

Cambridge’s Tom Woutersen (right) goes past a Te Awamutu defender. Photo – Louis Roberts.

But Cambridge fought back with the wind at their backs to take a 3-3 draw thanks to goals from Dehein Hindley (47 mins), James Cakebread (62 mins) and Zak Petropolous (87 mins). The side plays its last game of the season next Saturday, hosting Waikato Unicol.

Cambridge’s women’s first team have completed a successful season in which they won the Waikato League title and then finished third in the WaiBOP Premier League. The finished their Premier League programme with a 3-2 come-from-behind win against Melville United’s Development squad in wet conditions at Cambridge.

Trailing 2-1 at the break, Andrew Taylor’s squad had to fight hard for the last 45 minutes of their season to level and then take the lead. Scorers were Andrea Rogers (2) and Caitlyn Varcoe, scoring her first goal for the first team after a run of goalscoring for the women’s B team.

The Hill Homes Player of the Day award was shared by Rogers and Irish Harterink. The result gives Cambridge third spot on the Premier League table, beaten for runners-up by Whakatane Town on goal difference.

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