Old Boys show flair before flare-up
Old Boys extended their lead in Southland Football's Premier men's Donald Gray cup competition to eight points following their 3-1 win over Queens Park at Surrey Park in Invercargill on Saturday.
The game lived up to pre-match expectations of being a hard-fought affair with Old Boys determination to preserve their one hundred per cent winning record being matched by Queens Park's determination to keep their slim hopes of a title win alive.
The intensity of the game boiled over seven minutes from full-time with Old Boys leading 3-1 when Bara'a Toubat made a strong challenge on Queens Park defender Matt Rodger.
The two had a slight altercation following the tackle but the situation flared-up when several players from both teams raced to the scene and a scuffle developed.
Referee Craig Campbell dealt with the ensuing melee and in doing so sent three players, Toubat, Queens Park's goalkeeper Chris Pearson and their centre back Brendon Lloyd from the field.
The game restarted but the fire was gone and there was little more action through to the final whistle.
Old Boys had dominated play from the outset and established a 1-nil lead with a Callum Smith goal mid-way through the first half.
But for a fine display from Queens Park's keeper Pearson, Old Boy's lead may well have been more going into the half-time break.
Five minutes into the second half, Smith cemented his place at the top of the leading goal scorer list with his second strike for the afternoon and for the season to extend Old Boy's lead to 2-nil.
The goal of the game came ten minutes later when Jack Boland made a weaving solo run past several Queens Park defenders before side-stepping Pearson to volley the ball into the net and give Old Boys a comfortable 3-nil margin.
Old Boys had two opportunities within a two-minute spell to increase that lead but David Mwangi and Boland failed to hit the open-goal target when scoring a goal seemed the easier option.
It was left to Queens Park to have the last say when Tobi Reid slotted home a perfectly placed free kick to register just the second goal against Old Boys this season and reduce the final score to 3-1.
''It was a hard game and we missed many chances but credit to their keeper, who kept them in the game particularly in the first half'', Old Boys coach Ignacio Sande said.
At the ILT Turf there was as much excitement but for different reasons as underdogs Waihopai outplayed last season's title winner Southend United and, courtesy of goals from Matty McDowell and Israel Calder, went to the half-time break with a 2-0 advantage and an upset looming.
Southend United regrouped following a stern half-time team talk and with some player and positional changes made it a real game-of-two-halves as they waltzed their way to a 5-2 win.
Kurt Knarston 2, Steve MacDonald, Andy Ward and a Waihopai own goal saw Southend safely secure the three points on offer.
''I guess I must shoulder the blame for our first half performance as I decided to give some under-utilised players a run and change our game plan,'' a relieved Southend United coach Iain Walker said.
''The lads did great to over run Waihopai once we reverted to normal business.''
Waihopai's Shane Harpur was disappointed the game slipped away and pointed to his ''walking wounded'' players as perhaps an excuse.
Old Boys Black claimed the first competition silverware for the season when they secured the division two title on Saturday.
Division one: Winton 4, GoPro Invercargill Thistle 1; Old Boys 6, Arrow International Waihopai 0; Queens Park 2, Gore Wanderers Black 1; Gore Wanderers Red 2, Western Rovers 0.
Division two: Southend United Green 7, Old Boys White 1; Old Boys Black 7, Western Rovers 1; Old Boys Red 6, Southend United Black 0; Queens Park 6, Queens Park Masters 0; Cleanways Thistle 2, Thistle Blue 2; Gore Wanderers 1, Waihopai 0.
The Southland Times