Superb Blackham strike sets up Diamonds win
A superb strike from the edge of the penalty area, gave Nea Blackham her first goal for Wellington United and proved to be a turning point in what had been a tight game, setting up Diamonds for a 4-1 victory over Wairarapa United and seeing them progress to the Kate Sheppard Cup semi finals for the second year in a row.
Wellington United had made a few changes with Rosie Wild having moved overseas, Goalkeeper Roni Lipi at the Pacific games with Samoa and Sam Wooley in the U16 team heading to the Gothia Cup. Star striker Jemma Robertson was moved into the centre back position, while Briar Palmer and Charlotte Willford-Carroll returned to the starting line up and Molly Simons continued her impressive performances in the goalkeeping role.
The first 20 minutes were quite cagey, with neither side really dominating. In the 24th minute Emma Main broke down the right flank and crossed the ball in, Wairarapa United keeper, Courtney Norman, failed to hold the ball and Mickey Robertson was on had to stab the ball into the back of the net.
While the rest of the first half was reasonably even, Wellington United created more chances but it was Wairarapa United, through a stunning strike from Meisha Boone that was the only other goal in the half. While Boone's strike was stunning, it was an even better one from Diamonds Nea Blackham, her first for the team, that turned the game. Latching on to a pass from the ever impressive Briar Palmer, Blackham picked the ball up and fired it into the top of the net from the edge of the penalty area. Two minutes later Diamonds extended their lead when Emma Main scored he first of the day.
The two goal lead forced Wairarapa United to chase the game and they stepped up the intensity but the defence of Wellington United was too strong and they were unable to get a break through, then with about 10 minutes to goal, sub Dani Ohlsson sent a ball across from the left wing, which was met by Emma Main flying in at the far post to get her second of the day and her 6th goal in 12 games for Diamonds. A fitting way to sign off as she heads of to study at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Wairarapa United coach, Paul Ifill said it was a good game and he felt his side had been good value for the draw at half time, but when they switched off for about 10 minutes and Diamonds extended their lead, it made Wairarapa's task too hard, especially against a Diamonds team that defended well and his team were not quite good enough on the day.
Diamonds coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf said it was a tight first half, but he was pleased with the way his team defended especially as they had been working on that during the week.
Wellington United now join Christchurch's Coastal Spirit, Auckland's Eastern Suburbs and Hamilton's Wanderers in the Semi Final draw which is expecetd to take place on Tuesday around 12pm