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It was the season in microcosm as Canterbury was allowed the freedom of Tahuna to go 1-0 ahead after only three minutes when Ashley Ward punished a square, undermanned defence and dashed through to beat keeper Lara Malcolm.
Gareth Turnbull's Canterbury side gave Footballsouth a lesson in steady positional play, strong tackling and pace in attack.
In reply, not a lot got past Maia Vink and Monique Barker, and it took a while before Footballsouth managed to get its passing game going.
Kushla Glover was steady in midfield, and the explosive pairing of Shontelle Smith and Chelsea Whittaker made runs that threatened the visitors' defence.
Given a chance to get her head up, Una Madden showed excellent technique to lace a 30m shot that left Canterbury's crossbar vibrating like a tuning fork.
Then a free kick by Madden created chaos in keeper Lilly Alfeld's goal as waves of attackers hacked at the ball, and some brave blocking by Canterbury eventually cleared the danger.
Hopes for a 1-0 halftime scoreline were snuffed out, however, when another calamitous lack of concentration allowed Canterbury to race away and double the score.
Some fine tuning by coach Nick Rzepecky gave Footballsouth better balance in the second half, but Canterbury's pacey Ward and Lilly Dabner forced Malcolm to race off her line several times to smother breakaways and shots.
As it has done in every game this season, Footballsouth worked desperately hard, and Pelatia Schwartzfeger showed athletic pace to break away twice, but it was from a classic left wing attack that Sam Murrell delivered an enticing far post cross that Jordan Walker hammered home for a 2-1 scoreline.
Substitutes and fresh legs maintained the home side's impetus, but Canterbury's old heads sensibly played a possession game that ran down the clock, and clinched a win that earned a place in the playoffs.
Turnbull commended Footballsouth's spirit, especially in the second half, but said his side "came to clinch a playoff place and are glad to have done that".
Rzepecky lamented yet another soft start that probably cost his team the game. His player of the day was Sara Stannard.
Ashley Ward, Monique Barker
Halftime: Canterbury 2-0.