While most footballers in New Zealand are putting their feet up for summer, Christchurch United players now face the most important three matches of the year.
This Saturday Danny Halligan’s men will be facing Cashmere Technical in the English Cup before taking on FC Nelson in the promotion play-off for the Mainland Premier League.
Christchurch United has experienced a remarkably successful season, including a 23-match unbeaten run in all competitions, but that will count for little if the club fails to crown the year with promotion and a trophy.
“With three weeks left in our season we know that the success of our campaign will be defined by the results in the English Cup Final and the MPL play-off series,” said coach Danny Halligan.
Christchurch United secured the second-tier Canterbury Championship League title halfway through the season, but had to wait to see which club would win the Nelson Football title and if that club wanted to challenge for a spot in the MPL.
FC Nelson secured that title in the last match of their league and decided it wanted to take on Christchurch United to replace the relegated FC Twenty11.
Christchurch United will travel to Nelson for the first leg on September 14 before promotion is decided at the Christchurch Football Centre a week later.
First though, Christchurch United has its first chance of winning a major trophy since 1991, when it plays Cashmere Technical in the English Cup final this Saturday.
Christchurch United won the English Cup six times between1982 and 1991, but Halligan says it has been far too long between drinks.
“Christchurch United has not won it for 28 years and the 2019 squad would love to have our club’s name back on that trophy,” says the coach who was part of the all-conquering 1991 team that won the Chatham Cup, National League and English Cup.
Opponents Cashmere Technical dominated the Mainland Premier League and will be out for revenge after Christchurch United upset them in the Chatham Cup earlier this year. Cashmere Technical will the favourites, but the Christchurch United team will take confidence out of their Chatham Cup victory.
Halligan says he would really like to win the English Cup, but the matches against FC Nelson were always the main focus.
“Without question, our target from day one was to earn promotion into the MPL and we have now put ourselves into a position to achieve that,” says Halligan who has been working hard to keep his team focused as their league season petered out with a series of dead rubbers over recent weeks.
Halligan says that the main bonus of the drawn-out season is that several injured players may be back for the biggest games of the year.
long season has taken its toll on our players, but we are hoping that
some key players who have missed several games over the last couple of
months, due to injury, will be able to participate in the play-off
English Cup final, September 7, 3pm English Park.
Christchurch United v Cashmere Technical
September 14, 1.30pm, Nelson
FC Nelson v Christchurch United
September 21, 6pm, Christchurch Football Centre
Christchurch United v FC Nelson
Caption: Danny Halligan coaching his side to victory during the Chatham Cup match against Cashmere Technical earlier this year.
Words/Image Supplied – Christchurch United