by Jeremy Ruane
One of the all-time-great comebacks in ASB Chatham Cup history was the talk of the land on June 15, twenty-four hours after a major boilover saw the reigning Lotto Northern Premier League champions rolled by the current Second Division leaders.
Central United’s stunning 4-3 fightback win over Birkenhead United crowned a real black Friday weekend for clubs in the Northern Football Federation, four of whom crashed out of the competition despite enjoying home advantage in their fourth round ties.
Birkenhead were 3-0 up and cruising just after the hour mark in the tie of the round at Shepherds Park, two Jack Hobson-McVeigh free-kicks sandwiching a Rory Turner strike against opponents who had been reduced to ten men by the dismissal, moments after half-time, of midfielder Dae Wook Kim for committing two bookable offences.
Cue the comeback, with Central drawing level six minutes from time as Emiliano Tade completed the rare feat of a hat-trick of penalties, his twelve yard treble coming in the space of just nineteen minutes.
That set up a grandstand finish, with both teams going all out for a winner in an effort to avoid an additional thirty minutes of action. Deep in stoppage time, Nic Zambrano supplied it, completing a “cen-sational” fightback by the visitors, who moved into the last sixteen in the competition thanks to this remarkable triumph.
1 Jacob Spoonley, 3 Nick Dale (70th min 11 Mario Ilich), 4 Joseph Dawkins, 5 Adam Mitchell, 8 Dean Lausev, 9 Regont Murati (52nd min 7 Jordan Roberts), 10 Karl Reimann (75th min 12 Nicolas Zambrano), 16 Daewook Kim, 19 James Hoyt, 20 Emiliano Tade, 21 Finn Cochran
Substitutes not used:- 18 Maro Bonsu, 22 Keegan Ashdown-Inia
Scorers:- Emiliano Tade 3 (pens), Nicolas Zambrano