Southern United has title in sights

Take that favourite tag and firmly put it next to Southern United’s name.

At this point, there is no disputing it is in prime position to claim the South Central Series title.

Southern extended its perfect start to the season to three games in Wellington on Saturday.

Kirsty Hayr poked in a 38th minute goal, giving it a 1-0 win over Capital, which had also won its opening two games.

The win puts Southern three points clear on top of the table at the end of the first round.

Crucially, that includes away wins over Capital and Canterbury United, both of which will have to beat Southern in Dunedin to make up the ground.

The only disappointment from this campaign is that the northern teams are not present and a national title is not being contested.

There has been little not to like about this Southern team all season. Defensively, it has been difficult to break down and has withstood large amounts of pressure. The ability to do that was key to Saturday’s win.

Capital pressed high from the opening whistle and put the Southern defence on watch plenty of times.

However, Southern did not yield.

Goalkeeper Amy Simmers came up with several quality saves, while the ever-reliable centre back pairing of Kelsey Kennard and Hannah Mackay-Wright limited clean chances.

Southern began to play its way into the game after the first 20 minutes and created chances for both Margarida Dias and Lena de Ronde — although both came up short on their headers.

That sparked Southern to take control for the latter part of the second half.

Dias provided a great ball for Amy Hislop, who had her shot saved in the 37th minute.

A minute later, Hayr made no mistake.

She received a long free kick from Mackay-Wright, before putting a ball through behind the defence to Chelsea Whittaker.

Whittaker won the race to the ball as Capital goalkeeper Molly Simons came forward. Simons did well to deflect her shot, but Hayr followed up and toed the loose ball into the goal.

It proved to be the only goal of the game.

Southern created several chances in the second half and attacked dangerously on the counter but could not find a second goal.

Capital began to work its way back into the game midway through the second half and from there had the better of the play.

But the Southern defence was resolute.

It limited Capital’s chances, even as the host team mounted a furious assault on the Southern goal late in the game.

The Canterbury United Pride thumped Central 5-0 yesterday.

 

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