Queens Park break Old Boys' winning record with draw

STU MUNRO
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014

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Queens Park dented Old Boys' perfect winning record in Southland Football's 2014 Donald Gray Cup competition when they held the already crowned champion team to a 3-3 draw at the ILT Turf in Invercargill on Saturday.

It was the first points Old Boys had dropped for the season and it was their final game in the competition.

Despite the result, Old Boys finished their campaign unbeaten, with an 11-point buffer over Queens Park and added the Larry O'Rorke challenge cup to their 2014 silverware haul.

Old Boys were missing their, and the league's, No 1 striker Callum Smith, who was on duty for the Otago Academy team at the Milk Cup in Ireland, and it showed. They had the better of the early exchanges but missed several goal-scoring opportunities before Queens Park took the lead with their first real attack.

Following a strong forward surge, Matty Burgess floated a perfect cross to Kevin Downie, who headed the opening goal of the game. Burgess had the misfortune to suffer an injury minutes later and his time in the game was abruptly ended.

Old Boys fought back and 10 minutes later were all-square when Jack Boland chipped the Queens Park keeper Chris Beullens to score.

Boland became provider five minutes later when he supplied a quality cross to Atain Halley, who made no mistake putting Old Boys ahead 2-1.

Never has the value of the artificial turf been better endorsed as continual rain, varying from light drizzle to very heavy downpours, failed to detract the players from the high standard of football being enjoyed by the hearty souls in attendance.

Five minutes into the second spell, a stunning Tobi Reid direct free kick from 22 metres out rocketed into the top corner of the Old Boys net to level the score, and the momentum of the game stepped up. By now both defences were under extreme pressure as the attackers strove to get the winning goal.

It was from such pressure that Queens Park defender Matt Roger, with a desperate tackle, was judged to have fouled Old Boys' Jack Boland and the decision resulted in a penalty kick that seemed to be the opportunity for Old Boys to wrap the game up.

The penalty kick was entrusted to Halley and he stroked it in to give Old Boys a 3-2 lead.

But Queens Park were there for the duration and with fulltime looming, veteran Scott Morton showed a ton of class as he cleverly controlled the ball, out-manoeuvred the Old Boys defence and volleyed an unstoppable shot past Old Boys keeper Mitch Fowler to finish the scoring for the afternoon at three goals apiece, ensuring Queens Park shared the points.

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"I'm happy with the season. We came back disappointed from our Football South Premier campaign last season and wanted to show we would be more than competitive back in this league. We achieved that with solid, sometimes outstanding, individual and team efforts," Old Boys coach Ignacio Sande said.

"Playing in games that intense week in and week out would be great for football. Runner-up wasn't what we wanted but we now get a backup game against Old Boys in the first round of the Charity Cup and are looking forward to that," Queens Park player-coach Cory Johnson said.

All other senior men's football was cancelled.

- The Southland Times

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