Southern rides momentum to victory after Morison goal

It was a game few would have given Southern United much chance in.

For 25 minutes, that was exactly how it seemed to be playing out.

Southern had barely touched the ball and trailed a rampant Canterbury United team 1-0 at English Park in Christchurch on the opening day of the South-Central women’s football league.

That all changed in a flash.

Emily Morison’s 25th-minute goal not only drew Southern level, it caused a huge momentum swing.

Amy Hislop put the visiting side ahead 15 minutes later. From there, Southern dictated terms with its defensive tenacity and ability to play its attacking threats into space.

It emerged a 2-1 winner against the three-time defending champion, Southern’s first win over Canterbury since 2017.

"There’s a fine line in any sport, isn’t there?" Southern coach Graeme Smaill said.

"One minute you can be dominating and things are looking good. Then, the next minute you’re under the pump.

"That’s a bit of what happened to Canterbury today. They were dominating, there was real shift in momentum. I suppose the hunter became the hunted."

It was a former Southern player who gave Canterbury its early lead.

Kate Guildford used the strong wind to curl a corner in over the outstretched hands of Southern keeper Amy Simmers.

It could easily have been more than that, though.

Canterbury had a monopoly on possession and regularly challenged Simmers. But Simmers made several good saves, while the Southern defence dug in to hold on.

It was only going to be able to hold on all game, prompting Smaill to make what he considered a key formation change.

"We went from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-1-1, to push Emily Morison to play in behind Amy Hislop up front," he said.

"That was when the game started to turn. We had two outlets rather than one. We got on the ball a wee bit. We got the ball behind their midfield, we started turning them around.

"We just grew into the game from there, to the point we started to dominate them and started to dictate terms."

Morison’s goal followed soon after. Southern captain Rose Morton won the race to a cleared ball up the right, showing her class with a one-touch pass to put Hislop into space.

Hislop then curled a pass around the defence for Morison to run on to and poke home.

From there, the Southern defence began to press high and turn ball over more regularly. Hislop and Morrison began to become dangerous up front too, the former giving Southern its lead in the 40th minute.

Renee Bacon curled in a free kick which fell to Morison and deflected on to dangerous former Canterbury player Margarida Dias.

She played Hislop into space up the middle to slot home and make it 2-1. From there, Southern had the better of the play and Hislop could have made it 3-1 from the spot, but for a superb save from keeper Annie Foote.

Canterbury blundered its best second-half chance, when it had a goal disallowed off an indirect free kick.

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