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Just one round remains of the Southern League. But Christchurch club Cashmere Technical (six wins, one loss) is now out of sight on 18 points and guaranteed a spot in the National League.
On a windswept Saturday, Cashmere Technical wrapped up the Southern League with Christchurch United now in prime position to finish second and secure the other spot from the South Island in the upcoming National League.
Behind Cashmere Technical, no fewer than five clubs will battle for the final southern spot in the league, and it could get complicated.
Christchurch United and Selwyn United have 10 points, and Dunedin clubs Otago University and the South City Royals are tied with Coastal Spirit on nine points.
In the final round, the Royals need to beat Christchurch United on the road, and for Selwyn to lose to or draw with Nelson Suburbs, and for Coastal Spirit to drop points to Green Island.
Otago University must beat Dunedin rival Green Island, potentially by a very big margin, and have those other results pan out.
The Royals slipped to a 5-0 loss to imperious Cashmere Technical in Christchurch on Saturday.
Despite the absence of Garbhan Coughlan, the league’s top scorer, Cashmere showed it can still call on some top players.
Yuya Taguchi, Lyle Matthysen and Jacob Richards scored in the first half, and Taguchi added two more inside the first 15 minutes of the second to claim his hat trick.
With the Royals unable to get anything out of that game, Christchurch United claimed second spot when it beat Green Island 4-2 in an entertaining clash at Sunnyvale.
In extremely windy conditions, Green Island took the game to United, and the Christchurch side had goalkeeper Frewin Watts to thank for a man-of-the-match performance, denying the home team six times in the first half.
Green Island finally got the breakthrough when Matt Brazier unleashed a 20m screamer into the top corner in the last minute of the half.
Christchurch United turned the game around in the second half with four goals in a 20-minute spell.
James McClay bagged a brace and former Dunedin players Eddie Wilkinson and Ollie Colloty also scored.
Green Island substitute Kurt Owen pulled one back for the home side a minute after coming on with eight minutes left.
Otago University got back in contention with a 3-1 win on the road over Nelson Suburbs yesterday morning thanks to Ben Stanley and a brace from Aidan Barbour-Ryan.
Results / scorers:
- Cashmere Technical 5 (Yuya Taguchi 3, Lyle Matthysen, Jacob Richards) South City Royals 0 HT 3 - 0
- Coastal Spirit 2 (Cameron Rean, Kenshin Hayashi) Selwyn 4 (Joe Arnott 2, Dan Ede, Mitchell Cockburn) HT 2 - 3
- Green Island 2 (Matthew Brazier, Kurt Owen) Christchurch United 4 (James McClay 2, Eddie Wilkinson, Oliver Colloty) HT 1 - 0
- Nelson Suburbs 1 (Ross McPhie) Otago University 3 (Aiden Barbour-Ryan 2, Ben Stanley) HT 0 - 0
-By Gavin Searle and Neville Watson