By Logan Smith
Off the back of reaching the Chatham Cup final, unbeaten Southern League leaders Christchurch United are widely expected to celebrate the league title in the upcoming round.
They’ll play on both Sunday and Tuesday, needing just a win in one fixture or a draw in both to seal back-to-back Southern League titles.
Alternatively, they could be crowned champions on Saturday if Cashmere Technical drop points.
At the other end of the table, FC Twenty 11’s relegation fate looks all but sealed, with an unlikely win against Christchurch United a must to keep their hopes alive.
The action begins with a midtable clash on Saturday morning, with Nomads United welcoming Nelson Suburbs to Tulett Park. Suburbs will still be chasing a top-half finish, while Nomads could still have a chance at overtaking Suburbs if they win.
At 2.45pm, Cashmere Technical host Ferrymead Bays at Garrick Memorial Park, while Coastal Spirit play Selwyn United at English Park. If Ferrymead fail to win, as is expected, Coastal Spirit will be able to lock in third place with victory against Selwyn.
It’s also a chance for Selwyn to clinch survival on their own terms and relegate FC Twenty 11 with a surprise win.
On Sunday, Christchurch United travel to Dunedin to face Green Island, and hoping to secure the title with three points. The fixture is a catchup from earlier in the season
Finally, on Tuesday night, FC Twenty 11 will play Christchurch United under the lights at Avondale Park, with the away side potentially needing to rotate with games in quick succession.
Game of the week
Green Island have been tough to topple recently and did well to fight out a close 1-1 draw with crosstown rivals Dunedin City Royals for the first time at Southern League level.
But it’ll be an entirely different test when the formidable Christchurch United come to town, and unless it’s handed to them the day prior, they’ll arrive knowing that victory will win them the Southern League title with three points.
The reverse fixture saw United cruise to a 3-0 win, but Green Island will hope to make more of a game of it on home turf.
Player to watch
Cashmere Technical have had a real revival after some troubling midseason results, and one man who deserves credit is winger Lyle Matthysen (24).
He’s scored in four consecutive games as Cashmere have confirmed their National League place and qualified for the English Cup final.
Cashmere Technical will hope he can keep his form going into Saturday’s game against Ferrymead Bays.
The Southern League has tended to be a high scoring league in its short time of existence, and incredibly, has still not had a 0-0 draw in 2023.
However, both Coastal Spirit and Selwyn United have been among the goal-shy teams this season, and I’m picking they’ll squeak in the first 0-0 of the Southern League this Saturday.
Games to be played on Saturday August 26, 2023
Nomads United v Nelson Suburbs
Tulett Park, Christchurch, 11.30am
Coastal Spirit v Selwyn United
English Park, Christchurch, 2.45pm
Cashmere Technical v Ferrymead Bays
Garrick Memorial Park, Christchurch 2.45pm
Game to be played on Sunday August 27, 2023
Green Island v Christchurch United
Sunnyvale Park, Dunedin, 12pm
Game to be played on Tuesday August 29, 2023
FC Twenty 11 v Christchurch United
Avonhead Park, Christchurch, 7pm
Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.