Plenty of late twists and turns as Southern League opens

The opening round of the Southern Football League featured some late drama at the weekend.

The derby between University and the South City Royals was transferred from the Caledonian Ground to the Logan Park turf, where the students won 2-1.

While the Royals had cantered to the title, the students scraped in at the last moment.

However both teams’ form has flipped, with the Royals having lost three on the bounce, and the students are now into the quarterfinals of the Chatham Cup competition.

The opening period was a cagey affair. The first real chance fell to the Royals’ Ollie Cassidy on 19 minutes when he raced on to Ollie Petersen’s through-ball but his well-placed side-footed shot was gathered by keeper Neil Achary.

A defensive error soon after gave University the lead when the ball fell to Ben Deeley who did not miss from close range.

The Royals were starting to get on the ball and Raven August was beating his marker and getting in telling crosses.

Cassidy then turned provider when he won the ball in the midfield, and found the feet of Ryan Fleming who drove his shot on the angle into the far corner to equalise on 33min.

Nine minutes into the second half Cassidy had a great shot which Achary did well to deflect for a corner.

As a second half wore on the game was becoming compressed into the middle third and both teams struggled to create chances.

The students then had a flurry of opportunities. First, Aidan Barbour-Ryan broke through into the penalty box but Alex Boomer stuck out a foot to make the save. Moments later he palmed away a goalbound effort and he then denied En Watanabe.

The Royals had the chance to win the game late when Tom Stewart gave the ball away and Connor Neil drove forward and was taken out by Ben O’Farrell on the edge of the box. The resultant free kick from Jared Grove bent around the wall and was well saved by Achary.

O’Farrell redeemed himself when he won the ball with 2min left and with his through ball Barbour-Ryan raced forward and, one-on-one with Boomer, he made no mistake to give the students a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

Green Island travelled to Christchurch and was soon 2-0 down against Cashmere Tech whose goals came through Andrew Storer and Sam Field.

Lyle Matthysen’s long-range strike on 26min made it 3-0.

Green Island reduced the deficit on 40min thanks to a brilliant long-range direct free kick from Cam Anderson and on halftime Adam Hewson’s goal-bound effort was dramatically saved by the keeper.

Following another set piece on 56min, Sam Field made it four for Cashmere from a corner. It gained points again when Declan Tyndall scored from a very tight angle on 62min.

Green Island’s position was soon made even harder when Cody Robinson was shown his second yellow card and his marching orders.

Hewson, who had gone close to scoring twice, drew the keeper and scored in the 82nd minute.

Cashmere’s Tom Cairns scored in the dying minutes to give the home side a 6-2 win.

Selwyn United beat the more fancied Christchurch United 3-2, thanks to Jamie Carrodus’ stoppage-time penalty in the 94th minute to give Selwyn a win.

James McClay gave United the lead on 3min which it held for more than an hour when Daniel Ede equalised.

McClay restored United’s lead on 74min, only for Blackie to soon equalise.

Late in stoppage time Daniel Ede was tripped by Seth Simpson and Carrodus made no mistake with his well-taken spot kick.

The match between Coastal Spirit and Nelson was postponed as Nelson was prevented from travelling due to flooding.

 - Neville Watson

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