By Logan Smith
Unbeaten Southern League leaders Christchurch can clinch National League qualification this weekend, needing only a point against Ferrymead Bays or for Coastal Spirit to drop points against Nelson Suburbs.
First up on Friday night, Christchurch United get the chance to make that milestone themselves, hosting Ferrymead Bays at United Sports Centre where either a win or a draw will be enough to secure qualification.
The game will be streamed live by Christchurch United, and you can watch it here:
Saturday has three fixtures across the league. At midday, Green Island welcome Nomads United to Sunnyvale Park with both teams looking to put further distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
At 1.30pm, cellar dwellers FC Twenty 11 approach must-win territory and host a Dunedin City Royals winless in six league games.
At 2.45pm, at Garrick Memorial Park, Cashmere Technical continue their push to lock in a National League place. when they play at home to Selwyn United.
Finally, on Sunday, Coastal Spirit are at home against Nelson Suburbs, with an early kick-off of 11.30am.
Game of the week
Sunday’s morning match between Coastal Spirit and Nelson Suburbs is one to watch, mostly because of the implications in the qualification race for the hosts.
They are four points behind Cashmere Technical, who also have a game in hand, but that will likely be seven points by the time Coastal’s game comes around, with Cashmere favourites to beat Selwyn the day before.
Suburbs’ season to this point could aptly be described as inconsistent, but on their day, they’ve given top sides a run for their money. They also won the reverse fixture by a whopping 5-0 scoreline.
Player to watch
Christchurch United’s Abdul Khalifa was in fine creative form as they swept to an impressive 3-0 win over Hamilton Wanderers in the Chatham Cup quarter-finals.
Khalifa (26) has previously played for Northern clubs Forrest Hill Milford United, East Coast Bays, North Shore United, Manukau United and Auckland City, and for Southern clubs FC Twenty 11 and Coastal Spirit.
If he and the team can carry that Chatham Cup performance into the game against Ferrymead Bays this Friday, we could see a real show at United Sports Centre.
Nomads have only lost once in their six games, but have struggled with Dunedin games in the past, losing all three times they’ve travelled to the city in Southern League action.
Against a Green Island team that are creating plenty and converting chances well at the moment, I’m picking them to fall to defeat again, which will see Green Island move above them on the league table.
Game to be played on Friday August 4, 2023
Christchurch United v Ferrymead Bays
United Sports Centre, Christchurch, 7pm
Games to be played on Saturday August 5, 2023
Green Island v Nomads United
Sunnyvale Park, Dunedin, 12pm
FC Twenty 11 v Dunedin City Royals
Avonhead Park, Christchurch, 1.30pm
Cashmere Technical v Selwyn United
Garrick Park, Christchurch, 2.45pm
Game to be played on Sunday August 6, 2023
Coastal Spirit v Nelson Suburbs
St Albans Park, Christchurch, 11.30am
Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.