Fullers Waiheke Senior Men are the 2016 Conference champions after a determined 3 – 1 home victory over second placed Glen Eden last Saturday. This win caps an amazing year for the Senior Men, and means Waiheke United are promoted to the Northern League Second Division next year.
Understandably the match was a tense affair, as victory for either team would give them the Conference title. With driving wind and rain at their back in the first half, Waiheke started strongly and created a string of half chances with slick passing and movement.
Glen Eden’s well organised defence held firm until Nicolas Chalmet pounced to put Waiheke in front. Running on to an astute through ball, Nico found himself one on one with the keeper. His low early shot was well saved, but gathering the rebound he slotted the ball comfortably into the empty net, much to the delight of the many fans on the hill.
Strong chances for Kelly Escolme and Facu Calvo came to nothing, and Waiheke took a narrow 1-0 lead into halftime.
Despite facing into a strong wind in the second half, Waiheke were determined to keep playing football and were rewarded in the 20th minute with a thunderbolt from centre back Matias Montero. Collecting the ball in midfield, Mati dribbled past two defenders before unleashing a left footed pile driver from outside the area. Que golazo!
Glen Eden refused to give up and struck back immediately with a wonder goal of their own, as a sharp turn and 30 metre wind assisted knuckleball gave Waiheke goalie Joaco Moauro no chance. At 2-1, the game was still there for the taking by either team, but in the 85th minute Waiheke substitute Federico Parentella secured the game, and the title, with a sharp right-footed finish.
For the fourth year in a row Waiheke were champions and the pandemonium and celebrations between the players and fans at the Onetangi Sports Park were infectious. About 300 supporters braved the elements to witness a special day in Waiheke United’s footballing history.
For a small, family club like Waiheke this Conference win is an incredible achievement and a real testament to the coaches, volunteers, committee, sponsors, supporters and of course the players themselves.
Thanks to all our players this year, with a special dedication to Bruno Burgos, Lautaro Gauna and Rodrigo Gutierrez O Farrell who had to leave before the end of the season but were a huge part of this success.
Coach Dennis Wickstead was inspirational in more ways than one, and muchas gracias to Nicholas Saunders, Carl Grimmer, Lee Smith, Facu Calvo, John Hedley and ElChino Ramirez for all their work behind the scenes to bring (and keep) this squad together.
Last and not least thank you to La Banda Del Pipazo and Waiheke’s incredible supporters. Home or away, in the sun or the rain, they were always there for the team, and their passion, drumming and singing were like an extra player on the pitch.
Vamos Waiheke! See you all at Onetangi this Saturday for our last game of the season, and next year in Division 2. – Manchego Cheese

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