Heavy loss for Royals part of long weekend

It was a long weekend for the Dunedin City Royals.

They faced a gruelling travel schedule over two days and were beaten 6-2 by Nelson Suburbs in Nelson on Saturday.

A 5.30am start and a 12.30pm kick-off made it imperative the Royals got any lethargy out of their legs, but the home side gave them little time to do that as Seb Hickman opened the scoring for Suburbs after only 20 seconds.

The Royals caught their break and equalised in the 16th minute when a defensive free kick was played out to Hugh Jack on the right flank.

Jack’s cross into the middle of the box was met by Nicholas Zambrano, who gave goalkeeper Nick Van Hattum no chance.

Both sides were guilty of giving away possession of the ball in the middle of the park and Nelson retook the lead in the 33rd minute when the Royals defence was caught in possession by Alex Risdale.

Risdale’s shot was parried by Barclay but Lennon Whewell was on hand to score the rebound from close range.

The Royals had a horror start to the second half when they lost possession and Ben Polack’s dummy deceived the defence, allowing the ball to run through to Trevin Myers, who scored with a low driven shot into the opposite corner.

The Dunedin club continued to look for a way back into the game and nearly pulled one back with 18 minutes left when Jack Julian’s run and subsequent cross along the six-yard line into a crowd of players saw the resulting shot cannon off the crossbar.

A mis-hit goal kick with 10 minutes left went straight to Whewell, who made no mistake, and the tiring legs of the Royals allowed Myers to shoot from the edge of the box to claim Nelson’s fifth goal in the 85th minute.

Zambrano pulled one back in the first minute of injury time with a powerfully driven penalty kick.

However, with time nearly up, Nelson fullback Jack Carter ran on from halfway into space and his miscued high swirling cross deceived Royals keeper Sean Barclay, looking into the sun.

To compound the Royals’ woes, they got stuck at Christchurch Airport overnight due to fog and made the long trip home via Wellington.

Cashmere Technical beat Christchurch United 4-2 in the top-of-the-table clash, Nomads continued their recent good form by beating Ferrymead 2-1, and Selwyn beat FC Twenty 4-0.

— Neville Watson