Queens Park, Old Boys stamp class
Old Boys and Queens Park stamped their authority over their respective rivals with big winning margins in Southland Football's premier men's Donald Gray Cup competition in Invercargill on Saturday.
Old Boys disposed of Waihopai 7-0 at the ILT Turf, and Queens Park overwhelmed Thistle 8-1 in their clash at O'Rorke Park.
Both winning teams met determined opposition and almost equal possession for the first quarter of their games but, once they had broken through with an initial goal, the outcomes became inevitable.
Queens Park's Stu Kent struck their first goal against Waihopai, under protest from many of the Waihopai players, who thought they had played the offside trap to perfection.
However, the referee's assistant was unmoved by her decision that the play was legitimate.
For a few moments the action became a bit feisty, and referee Craig Smith had to call the skippers together to give them a general warning about the verbal dissent affecting his control and the flow of the game.
Thistle conceded two more goals from Kent before Ali Smith stroked home a penalty kick to reduce the score to 3-1 going into the halftime break.
The second half was owned by Queens Park, who dominated play and scored at will as Tobi Reid with two, Jordan McIntosh, Scott Morton and Ryo Okuyama added to the ever-increasing tally.
To add to Thistles' burden, they had a player sent from the field and played the final 20 minutes with 10 men.
"Yep, I'm pretty happy with that. We still have some work to do and I was pleased with the way the subs fitted into our game plan," a delighted Queens Park coach Cory Johnson said.
At the Turf, Old Boys also met early resistance from Waihopai until Callum Smith who, along with team-mate on the day Andy Taylor, will soon depart with the Otago Youth team to the Milk Cup tournament in Ireland, settled things down with the first goal.
Atain Halley and David Mwangi chimed in with a goal each to give Old Boys a lead of 3-0 at halftime.
Earlier in the half, Waihopai's Mohammed Sheraan had gone close to registering a goal for his team but Old Boys' keeper Mitch Fowler kept the ball out and in doing so preserved Old Boys' record of not conceding a goal in this season's competition.
The goals continued to flow in the second spell for Old Boys, with Smith scoring another two to complete his hat-trick, Mwangi netting another and Baraa Toubat adding to give the final 7-0 scoreline.
The youthful enthusiasm and pace displayed by Old Boys' attacking unit was just too much for Waihopai, who did suffer somewhat from the effect of goalkeeper Shane Harpur nursing an injury he picked up during the game restricting his mobility.
Summing up Old Boys' performance, manager Daryl Fowler said. "They took a while to settle and were playing too many balls in the air. Once they began to spread it around on the ground the goals came for them.
"We also discussed at halftime that a 3-0 advantage could lead to complacency but fortunately that was never an issue."
Division 1: Thistle 3, Waihopai 3; Gore Wanderers Black 3, Queens Park 0. Division 2: Thistle Blue 3, Queens Park 1; Cleanways Thistle 3, Southend United Black 1; Gore Wanderers 5, Queens Park Masters 0; Old Boys Black 4, Old Boys Red 3; Old Boys White 8, Waihopai 1; Southend United Green 7, Western Rovers 2. --------------------
The Southland Times