Old Boys find Thistle no walkover in cup final

STU MUNRO
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2014
Thistle’s Mark Lemon
STU MUNRO
SCENE STEALER: Thistle’s Mark Lemon steals the ball from Old Boys David Mwangi, left, while Jack Boland looks on in the Charity Cup final at the ILT Football Turf in Invercargill on Saturday.

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Southland Football's 2014 men's winter season came to a close at the ILT Football Turf in Invercargill on Saturday with Old Boys victorious in both knockout competition finals.

Their top team overcame a spirited Thistle challenge 3-0 to win the Charity Cup for Premier teams and in the Division one and two Edinburgh Trophy final their Division One team also defeated Thistle 3-0.

Old Boys have dominated Southland Football this year and were warm favourites to win both games.

The club has won eight of the nine trophies competed for in men's senior football, the only one to escape them was the Division Two supplementary trophy in which they finished runner-up to Queen's Park on goal difference.

To further enhance the strength of the club this season their Junior teams won three of the four finals also played on Saturday.

The Charity Cup final was no walkover as Thistle, who had some winning form going into the game, looked a different team to the one which had finished in bottom place on the Premier Donald Gray Cup points table.

Coach Dave MacDonald and his squad had developed a strategic plan to hold out their more illustrious Old Boys opponents and it worked a treat for most of the game.

Old Boys though knew how to pull something out of the hat to gain the advantage needed and, with a double strike just before the halftime break, broke down Thistle's resistance at a crucial stage of the game.

James Tucker was the provider of the first goal when he worked his way down the left flank and crossed a perfectly placed kick to the head of Joel Fletcher, who powered the ball into the Thistle net. Three minutes later it was 2-0 and looking ominous for Thistle when Jack Boland shrugged of a defender and drove his shot past the Thistle goalkeeper to double Old Boys' lead going into the halftime break.

Thistle came out after the break determined as ever to be competitive and had their best chance of getting back into contention when Ali Smith fired a pile-driver shot toward the top corner of the Old Boys net which, unfortunately for him, brought the best out of the Old Boys keeper Mitch Fowler who tipped the ball away to safety.

The Thistle defenders, with the Lemon brothers Paul and Mark in particular negating the Old Boys young gun attackers, played with much more purpose and structure than in previous games and did well to hold Old Boys to the two goal margin.

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When Old Boys third goal came Thistle thought they had played the off-side trap to perfection.

However striker Callum Smith had slipped the net and he made no mistake with his shot on goal to increase the lead to 3-0 as the Thistle defenders stopped in anticipation of a free kick coming their way.

Old Boys skipper Hamish Low, as he has done all season, led from the back with another strong game and was ably supported by Jacob Grant and Joel Fletcher in defence.

Thistle's Ali Smith, who has been a shining light in most of their performances this season, was again solid, as was Shannon Colyer.

"I'm really pleased for the boy's, and the club, that we have met with so much success this season," Old Boys coach Ignacio Sande said. "They have worked hard knowing that week after week they are the team to beat and have responded magnificently."

The question now is will Old Boys make a challenge to compete for a return to the Football South Premier League for next season.

Sadly, it's unlikely.

In the Edinburgh Trophy final, Thistle managed to keep the game scoreless for an hour but three goals - from Monie Singh 2 and Danny Rosel - in a ten-minute spell in the second half ensured the trophy was Old Boys'.

The women's football season came to a disappointing close yesterday when Queenstown Rovers defaulted the Knockout Cup final giving Southend United the trophy unchallenged.

Queenstown, who recently clinched the Southland Women's Premier Kolk Cup title, have indicated they intend to play their football in the Otago Women's competition next season.

In the plate final, Queens Park took the honours with a 1-0 win over Thistle at the ILT Football Turf.

Thistle dominated play for long periods in the first half but were kept scoreless by determined Queens Park defending.

The effort was rewarded when Amba Laking volleyed an excellent goal mid-way through the second half to seal the win for Queens Park and secure the trophy.

- The Southland Times

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