PREVIEW: Coastal Spirit get chance to prove their Southern League credentials

posted in: News, Southern League

By Logan Smith & Harrison Ryburn

Southern League leaders Christchurch United will have their perfect record put to the test this weekend, as Coastal Spirit, who are also unbeaten, visit United Sports Centre.

The round kicks off early on Saturday afternoon where the Dunedin City Royals will be expected to make it two wins on the bounce, at home to last-placed FC Twenty 11.

Later, Nomads United welcome Nelson Suburbs to Tulett Park, with both wanting to put disappointing results behind them.

Nomads have a chance to make it back into the top half, but Suburbs will be determined to bounce back from a 6-1 humbling at the hands of Cashmere Technical.

At 2.45pm, the remaining three matches will kick off, with Christchurch United hosting Coastal Spirit, Ferrymead Bays taking on Selwyn United and UC Football still searching for their first competition points at home to Cashmere Technical.

Christchurch United … face a tough test with the visit of Coastal Spirit. Photo credit: Christchurch United.

Game of the week

It’s hard to look past the showdown between Christchurch United and Coastal Spirit.

Something has to give at United Sports Centre, as the hosts are yet to drop points, but Coastal Spirit remain unbeaten.

The free-scoring attacks of both teams will be tested, for both United and the Spirit have registered three clean sheets in a row, including last week’s English Cup action.

The stakes already feel high, too, with United likely to lose the top spot if they fail to win but Coastal facing a cliff of five points up to the National League places if they lose, with Cashmere very likely to beat UC elsewhere.

Players to watch

Mason Stearn.

Young Dunedin City Royals midfielder Hugh Jack has been a first team regular so far this season, and scored from close range to open the scoring in the club’s 4-0 win over UC Football, their first of 2024.

With the visit of struggling FC Twenty 11, Jack (17) and his teammates will have the chance to bag consecutive wins and add to their goal tallies, and it will be interesting to see how the visitors cope with his passing ability and the Royals’ many attacking threats.

— Logan Smith

Mason Stearn (24) is among the new signings at Coastal Spirit this year, and will face off against his former club Christchurch United on Saturday.

The midfielder has started all five league games so far for the Spirit, and proved a crucial cog in the middle of the park.

A former Nomads United player, he had a two-year spell in the United States with West Virginia United before returning to Canterbury before last season’s June transfer deadline.

How he handles his former teammates could have a huge say in the outcome at United Sports Centre.

— Harrison Ryburn

Bold Prediction

Confidence is often regarded as key in football, but one side whose confidence may have taken a knock recently is Nelson Suburbs.

Suburbs generally boast a strong home record, but were thrashed 6-1 by Cashmere Technical last weekend despite expectations of a close match.

Could their woes follow them to Christchurch this Saturday? I think so — Nomads to triumph 2-1.

— Logan Smith

Coastal Spirit’s visit to Christchurch United already shapes as a pivotal match early in the season; if the Spirit are serious about qualifying for the National League, they’ll have to prove their worth against the league leaders.

United haven’t been entirely convincing so far, but have still managed to collect maximum points and made a habit of finding a way to win.

Spirit loom as their first major test of the competition, though, and I’m picking an intense 1-1 draw at United Sports Centre.

— Harrison Ryburn

Cashmere Technical’s Garbhan Coughlan … has scored 14 goals in only five rounds of competition. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Golden Boot

14 — Garbhan Coughlan (Cashmere Technical)
8 — Alejandro Steinwascher (Coastal Spirit)
7 — Joel Stevens (Christchurch United), Lyle Matthysen (Cashmere Technical)
5 — Spencer Barber (Nelson Suburbs)
4 — Michael Hornsby (Christchurch United),  Satsuki Ito (Ferrymead Bays), Trevin Myers (Nelson Suburbs)


Games to be played on Saturday May 4, 2024

Dunedin City Royals v FC Twenty 11
Tahuna Park, Dunedin, 12.30pm

Nomads United v Nelson Suburbs
Tulett Park, Bishopdale, 2pm

Ferrymead Bays v Selwyn United
Ferrymead Park, Ferrymead, 2.45pm

Christchurch United v Coastal Spirit
United Sports Centre, Christchurch 2.45pm

UC Football v Cashmere Technical
English Park, Christchurch, 2.45pm

Logan Smith

Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.

Harrison Ryburn

Harrison Ryburn is a Canterbury-based football writer.

More football stories