Royals’ hopes gain boost after 2-1 win over Spirit

Coastal Spirit player Cameron Bean looks for a way past Oliver Cassidy (centre), of South City...
Coastal Spirit player Cameron Bean looks for a way past Oliver Cassidy (centre), of South City Royals, and Kaleb de Groot-Green during a Southern League game at Logan Park on Saturday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The South City Royals took a giant stride towards the National League with a 2-1 home victory over Coastal Spirit in the return of football on Saturday.

The visitors dominated the opening minutes, during which Blake Weston got the first chance, but his header was safely caught by Royals keeper Alex Boomer.

Mika Rabuka nearly opened the scoring when his shot blazed over the bar.

The Royals settled and opened the scoring after eight minutes when Olivier Cassidy’s pass deflected on towards Ryan Fleming, who finished with aplomb.

The Royals gained in confidence from the goal and began to open up the game. Both sides got into good positions with Raven August providing a key outlet for the Royals on the right, while Coastal attacked the Royals defence quite directly, with Boomer called into action a few times.

With 10min to go in the half, Coastal nearly equalised when Roque Salinas stormed through. His shot went over the out-rushing Boomer but also over the bar.

Spirit started the second half by lifting the tempo and putting crosses into the area.

As in the first half, the Royals settled and Braden Fowell’s cross to Fleming was narrowly headed wide from a difficult angle.

The Royals got the critical goal in the 67th minute when Connor Neil’s pass found Fleming on the right side of the penalty area, and his well-struck low effort found the bottom-left corner of the net.

Coastal reacted immediately, forcing a corner with Boomer tipping on to the crossbar and the rebound shot blocked.

Another corner and Coastal pulled one back on 72min through Salinas.

Coastal peppered the Royals but was not able to breach Boomer, who was in top form, winning man of the match.

 - Green Island claimed its first points and put a major dent in Selwyn’s attempt at a National League spot with a well-earned 1-1 draw in Christchurch.

Green Island created many chances and went close on several occasions but found it difficult to beat goalkeeper Pieter-Taco Bierema until the 28th minute, when Caleb Williams put Adam Hewson through on goal.

He was bundled over in the box and Tom Milton scored from the resultant penalty.

Green Island dominated the remainder of the first half and it was a relieved Selwyn which went in only one down at halftime.

Selwyn equalised on 55min when Jamie Carrodus, who was being forced away from goal, swivelled and dispatched an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Possession was evenly shared for the remainder of the match, with Green Island having more opportunities only to be thwarted by an inspired display from the Selwyn keeper.

 - Otago University faced a road trip to take on Christchurch United.

Neither side was able to break through during a tight first half.

United was too strong in the second half, scoring five unanswered goals including braces to ex-Otago players Olly Colloty and Eddie Wilkinson.

 - Neville Watson

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