Southern United vs Hamilton Wanderers
By Rab Smith
Hold on to your hats, the real National League is about to
start, after lots of training for some, and nervous anticipation by
very many Southern supporters - the big league starts on
Historically 3 pm every Saturday was the epic moment,
either getting lifted over turnstiles, or squelching to the
touchlines on some public park, or the old Caledonian, where some
climbed in without paying - and passing trains slowed down to let
passengers have a glimpse of the game.
This was after pouring over team lists to see if you
agreed with Coach player selections, and checking fixture
lists to see who played where and when, and planning your
social life around important matches.
Well the waiting is over, and life in the present, 2016 on
October 22nd Southern United plays Hamilton at 2pm on Saturday at
Porritt Stadium and the Wanderers as new entrants to the Stirling
Sports Premiership ( national league ) will be a tough nut to crack
on their home ground.
Yes, coach Paul O'Reilly has had a couple of tropical
pre-season matches to try and shape his team, but the acid test
will be in actual SSP matches.
Pre-Season matches are invaluable for coaches and
managers, yet often many substitutes are used as players get subbed
on and off, and it can be difficult to assess good combinations.
Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees....
However, O'Reilly's decision at halftime when winning 2-1
over Tasman, to put on a complete new
team, was pretty brave, and after the new group played
well - lets hope it indicates a new found depth of playing strength
Eric Molloy's two goals against Tasman might have been
doubled and with a confident attacking mindset, utilising the wide
left pace of Andy Mulligan, and Harley Rodeka's carving forward
runs that produced several shots - goalscoring is a top
More scrappy was the 2-nil loss to Canterbury when coach
Willi Gerdsen's red and blacks allowed less time on the ball, and
severely tested Southern's organisation. Canterbury are rated as a
'top four' team, so the game was invaluable.
Centreback Stephen Last was a commanding figure, with good
support from his fellow Irish, but under quick Canterbury pressure,
there were too many break downs and poor passing that cost ball
The arrival of Southern's five Irish players has certainly
strengthened last years squad. They are - Stephen Last - centre
Back, Danny Ledwith - centre midfield/left back, Conor O'Keeffe -
right/left back or centre midfield, Andy Mulligan - left
wing/forward, Eric Molloy - right wing/forward.
Coach O'Reilly has already worked with his imported
players in teams that played in Ireland, so he is well aware of
The Canty pre-season match provided good aspects and some
not so good for O'Reilly, but as an experienced coach, he has been
there before, and will make his initial selection for Saturday on
Team captain Harley
Rodeka has been named, and there are many
aspiring local Southern players who will benefit from training and
playing with the Irish Pros.
Coach Paul O'Reilly remained happy with how things were
going ahead of the team's first league match against Hamilton
Wanderers this Saturday.
"It was, as expected, a tough test, against the Cantabs ''
he said. "They're pretty strong, I think they're going to be in the
top four, probably competing for a top two place
"Defensively we were quite solid. Obviously we got beaten
2-0, but they didn't break us down a lot. They didn't have a lot of
chances in the game, which is good for us."
Stephen Last went close with headers off two corners,
Chris Kessell hit the cross-bar and Harley Rodeka had a near
"The area to improve for us is in the final third. We did
have some good possession, but we definitely
didn't do enough with it. We
didn't have enough chances in the game, we didn't break them down
"We're hopeful we can get a big result against Hamilton in
game one. "They look strong; they went through pre-season without
losing a game." said O'Reilly
Hamilton will be jumping out of the starting blocks
in this first match, and has also had its share of pre-season
buildup games. The Wanderers club is centred in a population area
comparable with Dunedin, yet only 125 kms from Auckland it has the
proximity to attract players.
Recently the Wanderers beat Eastern Suburbs 2-1, which is
a big result since Suburbs is regarded as a strong unit.
Hamilton Wanderers have almost completed their squad for
the forthcoming Stirling Sports Premiership, after
picking up five more players.
They are midfielder Alexis Varela, a regular for
WaiBop United over the past three seasons; striker
Jama Boss, one
of the Northern Region Football League's most prolific scorers;
defender Christian Gray, a regular for Waitakere United last
year; and midfielder Kenta Nakashima and forward Regont
Murati, who both played for Northern Region Premier Division
champions Central United during the winter.
Intense competition for first team positions mean those
players join, goalkeepers Damian Hirst and Matt Oliver; defenders
Curtis Robinson, Johnny Konings, Jordan Shaw and Sam
Redwood; midfielders Dylan Windust, Rossi Nkoy and Xavier
Pratt; and forwards Ethan Galbraith, Judd Baker and Marc
Coach Mark Cossey said he was pleased with how his team
organisation was coming along and hopes his squad will give
Hamilton a positive start on Saturday.
Southern United Women vs Canterbury United
The women's team head up to Christchurch for their first
competitive game of the season off after having the bye in the
first round to play Canterbury United. Canterbury are coming off
the back of a 4-1 victory over Auckland last week in the opening
round of the Nationals Women's League.
The two teams are no strangers to each other as the
Southern United women played the Canterbury team just three weeks
ago in a pre-season game where the score line was in Canterbury's
favor. A lot was taken away from this game and the hard yards put
in at training in the last couple of weeks will lift the spirits of
the team heading into their first competitive game of the