This past Saturday saw the mighty Kiwis return to their home stomping ground of Dundonald Rec in an attempt to keep their glorious cup run alive.
The lads were coming off a big win the previous week and vibes were high. However the combination of missing a few key players, not a member of the management team in sight and the pre match update that the changing rooms were out of order due to a sewage leak somewhat darkened the mood.
Their opponents were what appeared to be the Portuguese equivalent of Kiwi FC and this was confirmed by the loud, incomprehensible instructions coming from their sideline for most of the match.
In all honestly maybe the less said about this one the better as unfortunately there was not much free flowing, attacking football on display. The first half was a grind with both teams feeling each other and chances hard to come by. The best did however fall to Shaydon who snuck in behind from a set piece only to volley wide after deciding he would much rather that outcome than having to hear about Seb's assist all evening.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the hard pitch and wind killed most attacking endeavours. The niggle also started to increase driven by Benfica's desire to time waste from minute 1. Kiwi turned to the bench for an impact and Jamie duly obliged by flying in to receive a yellow with his first involvement.
Things were tense and the deadlock could not be broken as the game headed towards 90 mins. Benfica seemed to be playing for penalties which confused kiwi given they had been told prior to kick off there would be 30 mins of extra time. As the final whistle blew and extra time was confirmed kiwi seemed the more determined to make it count.
While extra time was by no means pretty kiwi were putting on some pressure with the combination of Robbie's long throw and Seb's big Slab causing havoc in the Benfica box. Tempers were also starting to heat up with even the Benfica supporters trying to say their piece.
With 5 minutes to go in extra time kiwi played their best piece of football with Shay once again getting in behind however as he went to shoot his ankles were clipped by a retreating defender, only for the ref to wave play on. It just wasn't going to happen.
Hold that thought as kiwi got a throw in prime Delap territory. big seb rumbled up from the back as kiwi made one last push. Robbie unleashed the catapult and a mele in the box ensued with the ball sailing straight for the keepers graspe. In an event of pure Karma, the keeper (big boy) who had been time wasting from the very first minute and giving a few sprays to go along with it, flapped the ball into his own need! all eyes turned to the ref who saw no wrongdoing within the mele and pointed to half way line. 1-0 Kiwi 118th minute!
The lads held out for the last couple of minutes without so much as a scare and after 120 minutes the cup run continues.
A game that could only be described as a battle but job done. Specific credit going to the back four for a massive clean sheet and Liam for a MOM performance.
Dundonald is becoming somewhat of a fortress for the kiwi lads as the quest for silverware continues.
Viva! ?? Fionn