Avon Men have broken a six-year drought to climb into next week’s Canterbury Premier League final four, while HSOB/Burnside Women snuck in to continue their long-standing record of a semifinal appearance.
A solid team performance was the basis of Avon upsetting second placed Marist and confirming their spot in the semi finals for the first time since 2013. Andy Kelly and Duncan Bridgeman put them ahead by two goals at the halftime break, and when Levi Barrow did what he does best and fired home a third, the Avon army lead by Pete Darling were ready to crack the champagne.
Marist pulled a goal back late in the game as they subbed their keeper, but it was too little too late, with a famous Avon victory assured. This left a virtual quarter final in the later game between Harewood and HSOB/Burnside.
Defending champions Harewood went into the match in a slightly stronger position and knew a draw would be enough to keep them in the hunt for a third straight title. While HSOB/Burnside could draw confidence from their earlier match up in the season where they came away 3-1 winners.
In the end it was a one-sided affair, the defending champions mustering all their experience to earn a commanding 5-1 victory, Hamish Findlaly bagging a hat-trick with old dogs Richard Bain and Garren Fyfe also finding the back of the net.
Avon Women threw all they could at Marist in the hope of pushing their way into the top four but fell agonizingly short, going down 2-1. A spirited second half saw them create numerous opportunities, but they couldn’t find a way past NHL goalkeeper Saasha Masters.
This then took the pressure off both teams in the later match between Harewood and HSOB/Burnside, with Harewood confirmed before they took the field, and Old Boys having the luxury of being able to lose by six goals and still qualify.
A 1-1 draw was a fair representation of the game, although Old Boys will rue a missed penalty stroke that could have seen them finish in third spot and avoid the unbeaten Carlton Redcliffs.
League winners Southern United (Men) and Carlton Redcliffs (Women) both locked up the Challenge Shield’s with comfortable wins over University and Hornby respectively, with Carlton finishing with a perfect 12 from 12 regular season.
Carlton Redcliffs did the double over Hornby, with the Men taking a 6-3 victory thanks to an Ed Enersen hat-trick and a Chris Goldsbury double.
In the men’s competition, a finals rematch awaits in the semi finals as Harewood take on Marist, while Southern United play Avon, the only side to beat them in 2019.
The women’s competition sees Carlton Redcliffs meeting HSOB/Burnside, while defending champions Harewood take on Marist.
Carlton Redcliffs 6-3 Hornby Vipers
Avon 3-1 Marist
Southern United 3-0 University
Harewood 5-1 HSOB/Burnside
Carlton Redcliffs 5-1 Hornby Tigers
Marist 2-1 Avon
Harewood 1-1 HSOB/Burnside
Images: Geoff Soper