Win lifts Old Boys to top of table

STU MUNRO
Last updated 05:00 05/05/2014
soccer
ROBYN EDIE/ Fairfax NZ
Challenge: Waihopai's Reece Havenaar, left, and Thistle's Dylan Meehan contest the ball during the Southland Donald Gray Cup club football game played at the ILT Football Turf in Invercargill on Saturday.

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Old Boys moved to the top of Southland Football's premier men's points table with an impressive 3-0 win over current Donald Gray Cup holders Southend United at Bain Park in Invercargill on Saturday.

''We have come back from our campaign in the Football South premier league last season and the plan is to blend our youth players with those who gained premier experience. We know we are the target for local teams and each game will be a tough challenge so the win was good for us.'' said a happy Old Boys coach Ignacio Sande.

Southend United were without defenders Mick Sheridan and Shae Wyering for the game and coach Iain Walker brought Andrew Ward in for his debut game and included youngster Patrick Turnhout in the squad.

Ward in particular was impressive at fullback, where at times he competed more that adequately with the more illustrious Old Boys attacking unit.

Old Boys broke the goal drought just before halftime, when Southend failed to clear a corner kick to safety and James Tucker was left with an easy tap-in to put his team 1-nil ahead.

Five minutes into the second half, Callum Smith struck a killer blow to Southend when he scored to increase the Old Boys lead to 2-nil.

Old Boys seemed to go into defensive mode for a while and on two occasions, one a missed chance from Southend, the other a brave save from goalkeeper Mitch Fowler prevented Old Boys from conceding their first goal in the competition.

A quick break from defence was all that was needed to close the game down as a contest, when, following a valiant save from Richard Ririnui in the Southend goal, Smith directed the rebound into the net to capture his second goal and increase the score to 3-nil.

It was left to Southend to take the game to Old Boys who defiantly kept them at bay to the final whistle.

''The better team won on the day, no question about that. We never really recovered from the goal each side of halftime. However, there's a lot more football to be played and we are by no means out of the running.''

Southend Coach Iain Walker said.At the ILT Turf, Thistle and Waihopai managed a fair result as they fought out a 2-all draw.

There was never much between the quality of the teams with Waihopai grabbing the early lead through Carl Henderson and Thistle retaliating with a brace of goals from Dylan Meehan and Jesse Martin to go into the halftime break with a 2-1 lead.

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Meehan's goal was unique as he struck a ''daisy cutter'' free kick from some 20 metres out and on an angle, which went untouched through a bevy of players and into the Waihopai net.

The second half ambled along with few chances for either team despite the impact a goal would have for each.

Following a Waihopai free kick and with fulltime approaching, the ball found its way to Matthew McDowell, who gratefully hit home the equalising goal.

Waihopai midfielder Tim Malmstrom returning from injury and Henderson in attack proved a handful for the Thistle defenders, while Ali Smith in midfield and Rory Devlin at fullback turned in strong games for Thistle.

Both coaches, Shane Harpur for Waihopai and Josh Collins for Thistle, hinted they are in rebuild mode this season with an eye on the future.

- Fairfax Media

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