By Logan Smith
The Southern League returns to full action this weekend, with teams returning to league matches after a break for the Chatham Cup and flight cancellations for some teams in Round 10.
The round kicks off at 7pm on Friday night, with table toppers Christchurch United taking on Coastal Spirit at United Sports Centre, a game which will be live-streamed on the home side’s YouTube channel (see below).
The remaining four fixtures are to be played on Saturday, beginning at 11.30am when Cashmere Tech play Nelson Suburbs at Garrick Memorial Park.
A rematch of the Chatham Cup match that Cashmere edged 1-0, Suburbs will be eager to give them another tough test.
After two weekends without a game, Dunedin City Royals need to find a win against an embattled Selwyn United at midday.
Then at 1.30pm, a crucial basement battle is on at Avonhead Park, with FC Twenty 11 hosting Green Island.
Finally, at 2.45pm, Ferrymead Bays complete the round with a home game against Nomads United, with Bays looking to continue good recent form and Nomads needing to put more distance between themselves and the bottom sides.
Game of the week
It’s not an exaggeration to say that FC Twenty 11’s match against Green Island has a real chance of being decisive at the end of the season when relegation is confirmed.
Both teams are on a meagre six-point tally and tend to struggle against top-half opposition, so it’s a superb chance to get points on the board against a competitor.
Green Island won this match-up earlier in the season with a 1-0 triumph at Sunnyvale, but will have to overcome a dreadful away record to repeat that feat; despite it being their third season in the league, they are yet to win an away game.
It’s going to be a draw, in my opinion.
Player to watch
Nelson Suburbs’ Scottish striker Connor Gillespie has been on fire lately, bagging four goals against FC Twenty 11 and three goals against Selwyn in the league and an astounding seven goals against Motueka in the Chatham Cup.
He looked a real threat in the first half of Suburbs’ Chatham Cup tie against Cashmere, but the away side’s defenders managed to frustrate him in the second half and keep Suburbs scoreless.
Against the same opponent this Saturday, it’ll be intriguing to watch if Gillespie can win the battle this time around.
Christchurch United have made quite the habit of struggling to score until the latter stages of their Friday night clashes, needing late goals against Selwyn, Nomads and FC Twenty 11 to secure victories.
Their opponents Coastal Spirit are made of sterner stuff than those sides and have a 4-0 defeat in the reverse fixture to avenge, and I think they’ll fight their way to a 1-1 draw.
… one more thing
The FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy tour goes to Otago and Canterbury this weekend and early next week.
Game to be played on Friday June 23, 2023
Christchurch United v Coastal Spirit
United Sports Centre, Christchurch, 7pm
Games to be played on Saturday June 24, 2023
Cashmere Technical v Nelson Suburbs
Garrick Memorial Park, Christchurch 11.30am
Dunedin City Royals v Selwyn United
Dunedin Artificial Turf, Dunedin, 12pm
FC Twenty 11 v Green Island
Avondhead Park, Christchurch, 1.30pm
Ferrymead Bays v Nomads United
Ferrymead Park, Christchurch, 2.45pm
Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.