Southern lead twice, but must settle for draw
By Markus Fjørtoft
Ahead of last game of season, Southern had to win if they were to have a chance of winning title, but Canterbury strike back twice to make it 2-2
Four teams were still in contention to claim the title ahead of the last game of the 2018 National Youth League season. Both Auckland City and Waitakere United were at 16 points, with your Southern United and Eastern Suburbs trailing one point behind.
City signed off on the season in fitting fashion by putting five unanswered goals past Tasman, who picked up the wooden spoon as the only side not to win a match. Maro Bonsu-Maro led the way with a remarkable four-goal haul while Bradley Wilson also got on the scoresheet.
That meant Waitakere then needed a seven-goal victory over Hamilton Wanderers to snatch the title away from the Junior Navy Blues and they did manage a win but couldn’t quite do enough. A double from Troy Christophers and further strikes to Jake Mechell, Tafara Chawira and Matt Wood gave them five goals but they also conceded three to Wanderers, for whom Hiroki Toyokawa, Bayley Foster and John Clout were all on target.
Effectively, reigning champions Auckland City successfully defended their National Youth League title.
Eastern Suburbs and Southern United both also went into the final week with some hope of claiming the title but only Suburbs could hold up their end of the bargain with a narrow 1-0 win over Hawke’s Bay United. They had to wait a long time to earn the three points, Jayden Bos finally supplying the winner with only a few minutes remaining.
Southern were meanwhile held to a 2-2 draw in a South Island derby against Canterbury United after failing to hang on to their half-time lead. Southern’s Adam Hewson had scored either side of a Conor Clarke strike for Canterbury, who then equalised again in the second half through Declan Hickford.
It's been a very encouraging season for the youth team, as they fell only three points short of Auckland City. With a well-balanced age profile in the squad, showing to a great blend of players from all age groups (15-19), and a broad deployment of players from the whole squad, these are exciting times ahead for the the club. Moreover, youth team captain Rory Findlay was moved up to the senior team and has started the last five games at left-back, and Stewart Catto, Alex Cox, Joe Carvell, Adam Hewson, and Ben Deeley have all been involved to various degrees.