Favourites hold sway at pre-season tourney
It was a day for the favourites on Saturday when Southland Football's traditional pre-season tournament began at Waverley Park and the ILT Football Turf in Invercargill.
There was plenty of enthusiasm and the games were competitive despite the early timing, hard surfaces and sunny conditions.
The summer-winter sport crossover also had an affect on team selections for coaches.
2013 Premier men's champion Southend United always had the measure of Waihopai but some lacklustre finishing and wrong options kept them scoreless until early in the second half.
Three strikes from Braden McNaught, Kyle Schins and Kurt Knarston secured Southend's 3-0 win.
Queens Park, holder of the tournament's Waihopai Cup, started slowly in their cup defence. They needed two goals from Stu Kent and Perry Bray late in the first half to establish authority over a resilient Old Boys No 2 unit.
More Old Boys resilience and a hint of sagging fitness from both teams meant Park could only net one more goal through Scott Morton to win 3-0.
Old Boys No 1 were tagged as tournament favourites based on their season in the Football South Premier League and were kept scoreless for 20 minutes by Thistle in the late game.
However, when the scoring began the floodgates opened and, helped by a first half hat-trick from Callum Smith, Old Boys swamped Thistle 9-2.
Gore Wanderers entered two teams in the Social grade of the tournament and both captured wins without conceding a goal.
Thistle No 1, Winton and Western Rovers also had convincing wins.
The tournament continues for another two weekends, with finals being played the following mid-week at the ILT Turf.
The women's pre-season competition kicks off next Sunday at Waverley Park. Reflecting the increased interest in women's football there will be 10 teams.
The Southland Times