Home ties for local sides as league begins

Mosgiel, Otago University and Caversham will represent the South in the Southern Football League....
Mosgiel, Otago University and Caversham will represent the South in the Southern Football League. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A new year has brought three new qualifiers for the Southern Football League.

Mosgiel, Otago University and Caversham will represent the South as the league returns for its second season.

All have been spared a road trip first up.

Mosgiel and Caversham will meet at Memorial Park tomorrow, while University hosts defending champion Cashmere Technical at the Caledonian Ground.

Both games begin at 12.30pm.

Nelson Suburbs, Coastal Spirit, Nomads United and Western make up the remainder of the teams.

Finishing in the top half will be a goal for the southern teams after last year's trio occupied three of the bottom four places.

Mosgiel was the standout in the Southern Premiership, going unbeaten to win the league.

It has made handy additions in Ben Deeley and youngster Lewis Wall as it looks to continue its success.

The side is led by young defender Rory Findlay, and has several other key threats including Cam Anderson and Aidan Barbour-Ryan.

Coach Cam McPhail said the team had plenty of pace and flair and was one capable of scoring goals.

He admitted the initial goal had been to make the top three, rather than win the league.

Even that may have seemed optimistic to outsiders initially, having languished in the bottom three in recent years.

However, a lot of hard work in the preseason had enabled the side to excel.

University was the biggest surprise package of the season and nabbed second place.

Coach Darren Hart said the success had been the result of the past five years of work.

It had also managed to attract "seven or eight" new players who had made a difference.

Goal keeper Stewart Catto had been an important pick-up from Southland.

Dom Scahill provided an attacking presence up front, while Oban Hawkins brings the experience of being on last year's Chatham Cup-winning Birkenhead United side.

It has also added several players who were down for semester.

Among those was Santeri Kuivalainen, an exchange student from Scotland who had been playing for the Edinburgh University first team.

Hart felt having so many new players could be a positive.

For them playing in Dunedin had been new anyway, so the step up may not be so noticeable.

It would be understrength this week, though, as many of its players had to book flights home before knowing the start date.

Caversham also shapes as a strong contender.

It was disappointed not to qualify last year, after winning 15 of the 18 local premiership titles before that, and finished third this year.

New coach Richard Murray said the team was there to win, although developing players was a big focus.

Playing against the Mainland sides would help with that.

The side is led by experienced national league midfielder Andrew Ridden and has quality all over the park.

It has also added some old faces in Liam Little, Ryan Fleming, Rhys Henderson and Tore Waechter.

Of the Mainland teams, Cashmere Tech will likely enter as a favourite, spearheaded by Southern United star striker Garbhan Coughlan.

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