'Silly goals' dim Suburbs' hopes for title
Story by: JONATHAN MCKEOWN - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Chris Symes
Nelson Suburbs' tilt at a record fourth Mainland Premier League title suffered a serious body blow as Cashmere Technical beat the home side 2-1 at Saxton Field yesterday afternoon.
The loss hasn't knocked Nelson out of the title race, thanks to Ferrymead Bays being held to a draw, but they will now need a series of results to go their way as they dropped to third on the table, six points behind Bays and three off Cashmere.
The first half was dominated by a red card and Suburbs' rousing response to go ahead despite being down to 10 men. Through the second half, it was a case of history repeating as Suburbs surrendered a lead through errors and lost to Cashmere Tech for a fourth time this season.
After 14 just minutes Suburbs were reduced to 10 men as Erik Panzer finished his season in the sky blue early bringing down his man inside the box as the last defender.
Ricky Hulbert stepped up to take the penalty, striking it low and hard but keeper Coey Turipa rallied Nelson's spirits with a fine save stretching to his right.
From there the call came from captain Mark Johnston to show some “character”, and his side answered the call with Darryn Cunningham leading the line at the back along with Jordan Swaney and Ben Wright further forward.
Suburbs worked hard playing a 4-4-1 formation and after 36 minutes their tenacity was rewarded.
Swaney struck a free kick that would trouble any shot stopper as it curled and dipped to catch the keeper's glove and the cross bar. The ever-present Wright following it in to direct the loose ball into the net and Suburbs led 1-0.
Turipa was having a commanding game from the back as Cashmere certainly had a far greater number of shot on target. For long periods Cashmere made more of the running but didn't look as dangerous, the best of their attacking forays ending with average efforts on goal.
At half-time Cashmere coach John Brown had talked at length about showing a desire to win.
With his words ringing in their ears the Cashmere players lifted when the teams turned, dominating control of the ball and getting the equaliser inside the first five minutes back.
Matt Elliot, still troubled by a nagging groin injury, failed to get hold of a free header and from there Cashmere had the ball in an advanced area. Some nice touches on the right saw the ball reach impressive sub Cory Mitchell inside the box, crossing it to meet a run at the top of the far post where Nathan Knox knocked it in.
Working for each other and their home supporters Suburbs never gave up, building back into the match and regaining ascendancy despite their having fewer men on the pitch. Wright was denied a decent penalty shout, to the disdain of the Suburbs faithful, followed by a Dave Malloy header being cleared off the line by a Tech defender.
However, it was Cashmere who would break the deadlock 10 minutes from the end with what can only be described as a soft goal.
With Johnston receiving attention on the sideline Suburbs were down to nine when Louie Bush's ball in from the right hand side found Cashmere's Dan Ede in front of an open goal.
The high ball was always curling away from Turipa across the goal and as the Suburbs keeper came off his line in a futile attempt to connect with it, Ede was left with a free header on goal to seal the three points for Cashmere.
"It's always a tough tie, they are a great team, Nelson," said winning Cashmere coach John Brown.
"We've had the wood on them this year, but it was a battle. They had the better of us in the first half, we had some stern words at half-time and I felt in the end we deserved to come through."
Nelson Suburbs co-coach Ben Wright was happy with the way his players responded to going down a man "in terms of work rate", but said post match the team were crestfallen.
"We are obviously gutted. It doesn't matter that we were in control of the game, it doesn't matter if we were the better team, the fact is that we have lost four times now, that speaks for itself.
"We do make silly mistakes and we have been doing that on and off all year. It cost us two silly goals today, which is frustrating.
"We'll obviously keep going in the competition but it was important we won today and we didn't.
"It's going to be very difficult from now on."