Thistle moves to league’s top spot on goal difference

McIntyre Dick Thistle blew the Donald Gray competition wide open by beating Level One Queens Park 2-1 at the ILT turf last Friday.

A Park win would have put the club in pole position for the championship with a six-point lead, but Thistle threw a spanner in the works.

Instead of Park going six points clear, Thistle went top on goal difference, and the league title challenge is game-on.

The game certainly won’t go down as a thriller with all goals the result of penalties rather than open play.

Thistle drew first blood when a Park player was judged to have pushed a player in the box and Jose Rodriguez drilled the ball to the top left from the resulting penalty to go 1-0 ahead after 13 minutes.

Park’s Will Cairns was fouled in the box and captain Joel Murray slotted home from the spot to make it 1-1 going into the halftime break.

Despite the stalemate at halftime, Thistle coach Craig Sutherland would’ve been the happier as Thistle pressed Park from the start, limiting possession and controlling the game.

Park needed answers but started the second half much the same as the first.

Sheraan Mohammed saw red on the 60-minute mark, but Park was unable to take advantage and five minutes later Thistle got their second penalty when a player was brought down in the box.

Rodriguez stepped up and again drilled the ball to the top left past Park’s stand-in keeper, Jason McMath, to give Thistle a 2-1 lead with 25 minutes remaining.

Thistle was resolute with Park struggling to find any momentum, failing to take advantage of the one-man advantage and Thistle saw out the victory and, deservedly took all three points.

The result puts pressure on Park and sets up another important game when the two clubs meet again in two weeks' time.

In the other Donald Gray fixture, Southern Steel Windows Old Boys beat Kowhai Roofing Waihopai 6-1.

Thistle head to Gore this week with the hope of continuing their good form, and Park face Waihopai on the ILT Turf, both kicking off at 3pm on Saturday.

In the Kolk Cup, iHire Thistle remained a point ahead of Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau Wyndham Town when they recorded an eye-watering 21-0 scoreline against Malloch McClean Waihopai.

Wyndham beat Pacific Radiology Old Boys 3-1 and Māruawai Midwives Gore Wanderers beat Winton FC 9-1 in the other league fixtures.

Cruickshank Pryde Lawyers Old Boys continued their good form in the Fletcher Cup, beating Green Island 2-1 at home.

Old Boys head to Northern on Saturday with the hope of closing the gap on Dunedin City Royals, who top the Fletcher Cup by one point over the Invercargill men.

In the Kolk Cup, Thistle plays Southend, Wyndham face Winton and Gore entertains Waihopai.

Queens Park women went down 2-0 to University in the opening round of the southern women’s premier league.

 - By Chris Montgomery