A gallant Caversham came from behind to beat Ferrymead Bays 2-1 to retain the South Island Championship title after an entertaining clash at the Caledonian this afternoon.
Striker Sam Collier was the hero for the local side, scoring both goals including a stunning free kick.
The SI Championship sees the Football South Premier League winners play the Mainland Premier League victors, and it’s always a fascinating opportunity to see how two champion teams from different Federations fare against each other.
Caversham certainly dominated most of the first half, creating a few decent chances that they couldn’t convert.
Their earliest chance came after a trademark long throw from Sam Cosgrove was flicked on to Andy Ridden, who blasted agonisingly over from only a few yards out.
With the visitors regularly camped in their own half, the home side had further chances fall to Michael Hogan, Ryan Fleming, and Sam Collier, but they couldn’t beat Ferrymead keeper Cullen Smith.
The visitors had gone most of the half without testing Caversham keeper Liam Little, but against the run of play they opened the scoring after the home side failed to clear on a couple of occasions. The ball fell to Shawn O’Brien, who squared it to Mark Peers a few yards out from goal. His first effort was blocked but he made no mistake with the rebound, slotting it past Little to give Ferrymead the lead.
That goal actually seemed to spur the Christchurch side on, and they put further pressure on Caversham before the half time whistle, but would have still been delighted with their 1-0 lead given Caversham’s dominance.
Caversham finally got the goal they deserved only a few minutes into the second half, when a breakaway resulted in a foul being awarded just outside the Ferrymead box. Sam Collier stepped up and struck a sublime free kick as good as any you’ll see. The strike left keeper Smith with no chance and saw the healthy crowd erupt, to equalise 1-1.
Just two minutes later, there was even better football on display, as a Collier backheel fell to Waechter who drove a shot just inches wide from 20 metres out.
With the scores tied, the intensity of the match lifted, both teams slogging it out in the midfield. Caversham started to regain the ascendancy, and were rewarded when Collier was fouled in the box by Peers leaving the referee no choice but to award a penalty.
It was Collier himself who stepped up to take the spot kick, and he coolly slotted it past Smith to give Caversham a 2-1 lead.
Caversham thought they had another penalty just a minute later, when livewire substitute Ben Wade appeared to be felled in the box, but this time their appeals were waved away.
With the game getting a bit fiery, Caversham defender Craig Ferguson was shown a red card late on, among a few other yellow cards that were dished out throughout the match.
A desperate Ferrymead side then laid a late siege on the home side’s defence, with a good chance to equalise going begging in the dying seconds.
But when the final whistle went it was Caversham who were celebrating, with a deserved 2-1 final scoreline.
Match-ups like this may become more commonplace next season, with a South Island league likely to take place in some format, with both regions keen for more competitive matches between the best sides from both Federations.
– Report by Morgan Jarvis
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Caversham Association Football Club, Ferrymead Bays FC, Mainland FootballSaturday 9 September 2017