Universities of Canterbury
Mainland Premier League
Sunday 28th June
Saxton Field. Nelson
It’s Chatham Cup weekend and if I’d managed to do what I said at the start of the season and do a follow the winner trip I should be in New Plymouth to see New Plymouth Rangers host Western Suburbs in the 3rd Round. I missed the 2nd round game due to, ironically, being in New Plymouth but as I was there for the Nigeria v Brazil U20 World Cup game I think it’s a valid excuse. This time personal reasons found me in Nelson.
Unfortunately all the Nelson entries to the Chatham Cup have been knocked out already. The cities top team, Nelson Suburbs, didn’t enter the competition and they haven’t done so since 2012. This is down to cost, what would happen is that they would play local teams in the early rounds and hammer them by 8 or 9 goals then hopefully get a home game against a Christchurch team but more often than not they would end up away and the further they got in the competition the more it would cost, an odd situation which effectively penalises the club for being successful! So they decided not to enter and concentrate on the Mainland Premier League.
Luckily for me they had a catch up game against Christchurch side Universities (called Universities as they serve as the football club for both Canterbury & Lincoln Universities) and as Universities had gone out of the cup in the last round they played each other today.
Before the game Suburbs co-coach, Davor Tavich said that if they lost the season would effectively be over. They were 2nd on the table with only 1 loss but 7 points behind league leaders, Cashmere Technical. That one loss of Suburbs came in the first game of the season away to Universities. So while on paper this looked like it should be an easy win for Nelson they weren’t taking it lightly.
|Gardiola (Suburbs) & Hunt (Universities) Challenge for the ball|
And so it proved, It took about 20 minutes for Universities just to get the ball and another 5 minutes to actually get into the Nelson half. Suburbs were without top scorer, Solomon Islander Atkin Kaua, who had been sent off the week before. It showed a bit as despite having a huge amount of possession it took until the 43rd minute for co-coach, Ben Wright, to beat the offside trap and pick up a deft chip at the end of a brilliant Sam Ayers solo run. 2 minutes later Omar Gardiola won the ball of a Universities defender who was trying to clear and got it to Wright who again slotted past the keeper.
In the first game of the season when Universities beat Nelson 4-2, Nelson were 2-0 up so no doubt Tavich and Wright reminded the team of this at half time as it took just 10 minutes for Suburbs to double their lead and make the game safe. Suburbs could have had more, they hit the underside of the bar and Lew Gordon in the Universities goal made several good saves, Suburbs made it 5 when Gardiola got a second 5 minutes from time.
Universities just didn’t turn up today. Nelson consolidate their 2nd place with the win and are only 4 points behind Cashmere Technical with 7 games to go and unlike Technical don’t have to worry about the Chatham Cup.