Teams from the South hold their own in Southern League

Done but not disgraced.

The South will not feature in the championship phase of the new National League.

Cashmere Technical emerged victorious in the Southern League, while Selwyn United claimed the second spot.

It was certainly not the Christchurch dominance many expected from that league, though.

The South City Royals and Otago University both trailed Selwyn by a solitary point.

They also finished ahead of Coastal Spirit and Christchurch United — which placed second and third in this year’s Mainland Premier League.

It was the conclusion of a transition year for the South Island.

Next year, there will be no qualification for the top league through local leagues.

The Royals and University both retain their spots in the Southern League, pending license approval from New Zealand Football.

Green Island will face local championship winner Mosgiel in a promotion-relegation match for the third spot.

Southern League teams will play a double round next year — consisting of games against every team, home and away.

All three teams in the South that took part this season have submitted their license applications for next year.

Requirements included adequate facilities, qualified coaches and having people in various roles off the field.

The junior and youth pathway was also significant, a challenging area for University.

"We’ve proposed a few things to try to make up for that," University coach Darren Hart said.

"We’re really in the hands of New Zealand Football now to see if they’ll take any of those concessions, around how we take the junior and youth sides. Obviously we have limited ability to take on junior and youth sides.

"We’re affiliated, too, so we have limitations around student membership. If we branch out, we lose our affiliation with the university, which isn’t where we want to be."

He said the club was looking to make up for that by contributing to junior football in other ways.

Being a university club, the majority of its players were new to town, rather than those developed locally.

To play in next year’s Southern League, it would need approval for the concessions from New Zealand Football.

Green Island is the other club looking to hold its spot in the league.

It comes off a 3-2 win over Coastal Spirit, its only win over the league this season.

Coach Shane Carvell said the team had fallen off in patches in a lot of games, which had cost it.

Player depth was something it needed to build.

Green Island finished well with a 3-2 win over Coastal Spirit, having bounced back after illness ravaged the team during its Thursday game against University.

The team was continuing to train ahead of its promotion-relegation encounter.

South City Royals coach Richard Murray had been pleased with the season and the league.

It was the first year of the joint venture between Caversham and Dunedin Technical.

He felt that had gone well, although there was still plenty to do.

Looking ahead to next year, he felt the double round would be a significant addition to the Southern League.

"It’s definitely advantageous to have two rounds," he said.

"The league was obviously pretty close. We had five teams within four points of each other.

"A lot of the goals we conceded were individual errors we got away with down here. Playing at that level regularly lifts your game and you learn to deal with those situations."

He said he felt the Southern teams had improved and the gap between its clubs and the Mainland ones was closing.

jeff.cheshire@odt.co.nz

Comments

Well i won my bet Jeff. I predicted no southern teams. None from Waibop or Central either. What a sham from NZ football. They got rid of a very successful national league - for this mess. Now many good players in clubs that didn't make it, can't be seen on the national stage. The pathways are now gone and good players will leave unsuccessful clubs and make a few clubs stronger. Wheres Gisborne City Jeff? or Mt Wellington and all those past powerhouses of NZ soccer? What you haven't factored in Jeff, is that Chch clubs have yet to merge and be stronger still. The problem will always be with this competition is that southern players cannot get time off to travel up to Chch or Nelson for games. Good southern players will move to Chch. I watched all the Chch based games Jeff and the difference in standard was a joke - but much due to travel. The southern players looked tired and no energy.

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