8-0 stuffing leaves Suburbs subdued
The only solace for Nelson Suburbs at Saxton Field yesterday was that they didn't lose by double figures.
The record 8-0 loss against Cashmere Technical represents the lowest point in AMI Nelson Suburbs' Mainland Premier League history. They may well have been playing against the best club side in the country, and it showed.
Suburbs were played off the park as the league leaders, defending champions and Chatham Cup holders scored five second-half goals, including a hat-trick to Shawn O'Brien.
While Suburbs came close to scoring late in the game, Technical have now gone four games without conceding a goal, and all but doubled their season goal tally.
Nelson Suburbs co-coach Paul Brydon said the home side were quite simply not good enough.
"We were just soft at the back - you can't defend like that," said a frustrated Brydon. "Really, it could have been double figures.
"I don't really know what to say, because I have never been in this situation before. I've been coaching this lot for four years and I have never seen anything like that. I'm trying to find a positive but I am struggling to come up with one."
The first 20 minutes was a good contest as Suburbs held possession for long periods, but once the first goal came, it was the rock that triggered the avalanche.
Decent defence that cut out a Tech break demanded a clearance, but it didn't come. Sitting back and watching as Tech controlled the ball on the edge of the box, the Suburbs defenders couldn't get in front of a measured low strike from Nick Wortelboer, and a somewhat unsighted Suburbs keeper Simon Capenerhurst didn't get a dive in as the ball hit the netting.
Tech's second goal came on the break as Andrew Barton picked out a searching run by O'Brien. The execution was without fault as one touch steadied O'Brien before he hit the ball low and to the right of Capenerhurst in the 26th minute.
Two minutes later, O'Brien returned the assist, holding the ball in the box before Barton cut back towards the goal to finish first time.
The halftime deficit could have been more than 3-0, but Capenerhurst pulled off a good close-range save, tipped a well-struck free kick over the bar, and then got a palm out while backtracking to save when Ash Welborn's chip was goalbound.
Suburbs rolled out Irish striker Davitt Walsh, who looks like a good prospect, but it was Tech who made the immediate impact. O'Brien strolled down the centre of the park, and an accurate, calm strike got him a second goal and Tech's fourth.
Suburbs scored 10 minutes into the second half, but it was counted as Tech's fifth - an own goal from defender Neil Connell. Barton's cross from the right flank was threaded through the attackers and retreating defenders, and it was Connell who got the first touch - but it went on the wrong side of the post.
The sixth goal conceded by Suburbs was somewhat demoralising after a period of parity. From a rather rudderless attacking situation, Chris Bacon struck a speculator to test Capenerhurst. The result wasn't good for the home side as the shot was spilled over the goal line by the keeper, who was under relentless pressure.
At the other end, Tech keeper Danny Knight denied Suburbs' best chance. With nothing much to do all day, Knight turned away a shot that had even taken a slight deflection.
Ryan Stewart's set piece was met well by Davi Maciel, who struck sweetly from the edge of the box. On the way towards the goal, Ben Wright got a glancing head to the ball, but Knight smashed the shot out of the air.
Knight was there again to deny Wright as the classy striker got the ball at his feet close to the penalty spot. A touch, a turn and the shot were all accurate, but even while falling the other way, Knight stretched to take the pace off the shot, and an arriving defender had plenty of time to clear.
The seventh goal was the product of a team in complete control and full of confidence. Attacking the right edge of the box, Welborn saw Capenerhurst coming off his line and simply put his head down, only looking up to check where his chipped shot ended up in the open goal.
A third goal for O'Brien, Tech's eighth, had some home fans turning to leave despondently. But it is clear that no-one will feel the pain of such a showing more than the players who were out on the field for Suburbs.
While completely outclassed in nearly every facet, the team's leaders, such as Sam Ayers, Stewart and Wright, never stopped struggling.
There is plenty of talent in the sky-blue strip, but a result like this will need to be met with changes, starting in defence.