One goal keeps West End in title hunt
West End kept its slim South Canterbury Football League title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Pleasant Point at Sir Basil Arthur Park.
Enigmatic striker Kenny Cox overcame a tough first half to score the winner eight minutes after halftime, ensuring his team remained within striking distance of Northern Hearts, while Point would have to likely settle for third.
In other results, Northern Hearts scored five second half goals to beat Mountainview FC 6-1 at Aorangi Park, Timaru City came from a goal down to beat Timaru Boys' High School 2-1 at the Caledonian Grounds and Meadowbank United thrashed Thistle 6-1 at the Oamaru Showgrounds.
The match between Point and West End was played with high intensity, rivalling a Chatham Cup fixture.
Defence won out in the opening half but it was not for a lack of endeavour from both teams.
Point tried to get under the skin of the West End strikers early.
The tactic seemed to work as Cox was cautioned after 20 minutes for back-chat.
Point's Eddie Iraia had the speed to enjoy himself on the left wing but equally, his defenders scrambled to contain Cox and Danny Campbell at times.
Callum Potter showed why he was so valuable on defence for Point, while Aaron Collins led by example at the back for West End.
Point had the better of the early stages of the second half but it was Cox who opened the scoring for West End.
He was set free down the right after a good pass from Tom Clarkson.
While the Point defenders claimed offside, the striker angled his shot to the far post and in.
The remaining 35 minutes were dominated by Point as they pressed for an equaliser.
The best chance fell to veteran Barry Austin.
His shot from inside the box drew a fine diving stop from West End goal keeper Josh Vincent with 10 minutes to play.
Tension between the two teams continued to simmer under the surface but never boiled over as West End clung grimly to the advantage.
Pleasant Point coach Danny Johnston said his team failed to fire in the first 45 minutes.
"We thought at halftime if we could play that badly in the first half and still be level then the game was there for the taking.
"We knew they'd be up for it - trying to keep the title race alive and they caught us out a couple of times defensively with their speed."
West End coach Trevor Johnston said he was confident the hot-headed Cox had things under control, despite him being on a short rein this season.
"Kenny has worked very hard on his behaviour and he's a naturally passionate player, I'll say that.
"I've given him a roaming role just behind Danny (Campbell) and they have a good partnership.
He also praised Vincent for his second half heroics.
Mountainview FC gave Hearts plenty of cheek in a first half that saw them hold a slender 1-0 advantage.
Hearts player/coach Matt Chambers said his team put in a strong final 20 minutes, with captain Todd Burtenshaw and striker Rowan Hewson ending up with two goals each.
Mountainview coach James Coyle felt his team was competitive for 75 minutes of the match.
He said Daniel Payne played strongly in the midfield, but his team lacked experience in the crucial periods late in the game.
TBHS coach Gary Ivamy said his team failed too listen to his halftime speech and undid all their hard work in the first half.
"I told them City would come out after the break and look to get a couple of goals early and then defend.
"We then conceded two goals in the first five minutes after halftime.
Jack Deeley had put the schoolboys in front after 20 minutes.
Ivamy said defensively Jordan Howey-Beattie and Ross Godwin worked hard but his team were left to rue another match that got away.
- The Timaru Herald