By Logan Smith
A Friday night matchup between Ferrymead Bays and Coastal Spirit will kick off the Southern League for 2023, in what is also the first game of the National League regional phase.
The ten-team competition welcomes one new team for the 2023 season, with promoted FC Twenty 11 replacing relegated Mosgiel AFC, making their club debut in the present iteration of the Southern League.
The opener will kick off at 7.15pm on Friday night and presents perhaps the most even game of the round on paper, with Ferrymead and Coastal finishing 5th and 6th respectively in 2022.
Robbie Stanton returns to Coastal Spirit as their new head coach, replacing Jose Matiz.
Saturday’s fixtures begin at 11.30am with Selwyn United welcoming Nelson Suburbs to Foster Park. At midday, Dunedin City Royals will get their new campaign underway at home to Nomads United, with Matt Jansen taking charge of his first game as head coach.
READ MORE: Nomads name coaching staff for 2023 Southern League season >>>>
Later, at 1.30pm, reigning champions Christchurch United will kick off their title defence at home to Green Island, and in the last game of Round 1, newly promoted FC Twenty 11 host 2022 runners-up Cashmere Technical at Avonhead Park.
READ MORE: Promoted FC Twenty 11 to host Cashmere Technical in Southern League opener >>>>
Game of the week
The opener between Ferrymead and Coastal primes as an entertaining fixture, with player movement between them in the summer. Attackers Kenshin Hayashi and Mark Zimmerman moved to Ferrymead from Coastal and may debut against their former club. It’s also a first competitive game for new Coastal head coach Robbie Stanton.
With pre-season offering few clues as to the sides’ strengths, this should be an intriguing one.
Promoted FC Twenty 11 face an intimidating Round 1 opponent in 2022 runners-up Cashmere Technical, who despite the departure of Kian Donkers to NEC Nijmegen, still have a very dangerous front line.
With a lack of experience at this level, it could be a very difficult opening to the season for the hosts, against a team capable of piling on the goals. I’ve got Cashmere to win by at least four goals.
READ MORE: U-20 international Kian Donkers joins top-level Dutch club NEC Nijmegen >>>>
Player to watch
Christchurch United’s Scottish attacker Daniel Maclennan has been in good form in pre-season, scoring once and involved twice more in a 3-1 win over Cashmere Tech.
At home against a Green Island team that didn’t have the best defensive record last year, it’s a good opportunity for Maclennan to start the season with a bang.
This game will be live-streamed by NZ Football’s YouTube channel. You can watch it here:
Game to be played on Friday March 24, 2023
Ferrymead Bays v Coastal Spirit
Ferrymead Park, Christchurch, 7.15pm
Games to be played on Saturday March 25, 2023
Selwyn United v Nelson Suburbs
Foster Park, Christchurch, 11.30am
Dunedin City Royals v Nomads United
Football Turf, Dunedin, 12pm
Christchurch United v Green Island
United Sports Centre, Christchurch, 1.30pm
FC Twenty 11 v Cashmere Technical
Avonhead Park, Christchurch, 2.45pm
Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.