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I dont think anybody has told the story yet how we won - we came back from Dunedin singing and dancing - it was an awesome day and one I will never forget. Thistle won 1-0 which we knew would be a close game and this was proven. Although it was not pretty football the only thing that was on everyone's mind was that we have the title of the Hertz Southern League.
We were as vocal as possible to try and spur the team on and it was only when Johnny Kolk struck the ball hard and precise into the Dunedin Technical's net that we realised we were in with a chance. It was fitting to see Thistle's Lance Howley playing a huge part in the game as he was a member of the Invercargill City side which last won the competition 10 years ago. He said that it was the team's goal right at the beginning of the season and that the win 10 years ago did not compare with this win as the team then did not know they had won until all games had been completed. He said this time was like a cup final.
The game was difficult for both teams as the ground was not only uneven but a stiff cold wind blew down the pitch.
Thistle rather than playing their own game won by pressuring Tech into mistakes and Fred Simpson (coach) afterwards said "we played with a lot of determination and guts, but we certainly did not play a lot of good football".
Tech dominated the first half with the wind at their backs, particularly in the midfield, and Fred said they must have been disappointed that they had not points on the board for their efforts.
He singled out Paul Ferguson, who held out the Tech forwards for a long period and said his defence was relentless, as he pulled off a couple of point blank saves and his play in the air was near faultless. Paul was later named 'man of the match'.
Due to the intense and torrid play, this aggressiveness led to a number of injuries for both teams. The most serious was Neil Birch's suffering a cut head at the 25th minute and was taken to hospital. Tech had to bring one of their most effective strikers, Barry White into his position, where he did not look comfortable, particularly in the air. But unfortunately Thistle did not use this to their advantage.
Chris Mathieson, Thistle was hurt early in the game and had to come off, while in the second half, Harry McCulloch, who had been in the midst of some fierce tackling joined Chris on the bench.
At half time the supporters were starting to feel a bit anxious as Tech definitely had the better of Thistle, but we knew that going into the second half, we would have the wind at our back.
Speedsters' Thistle forwards Trevor Nielson and Johnny Kolk, both showed they had the speed to beat the bigger Tech defenders, so Simpson put McCulloch into the midfield to try and combat these players, but it had only limited effect.
Mike Kernaghan had the first chance to score when he drove a hard shot just past the right hand upright. This was answered with Tech taking a corner accross the face of the goal, and was one of the few balls not collected by Ferguson, and it only needed a touch to score but fortunately for Thistle they could not get a man to the ball.
There was a long period of attacking from Thistle, when Ferguson was at his best. He was caught well out of his line at one stage, and Tech's shot just managed to be plucked out of the air from a fine piece of goalkeeping. Just after he managed to save a certain goal to a Bruce Blair header. Kernaghan found space for Chris Wilcox to line up a shot, but the defender put the ball over the bar. The one goal came after Kolk was fouled at the left wing, Chris Wilcox found Mike O'Donnell with the free kick, and he headed the ball back across the goal to Kolk, who unleashed a blistering shot.
Tech almost equalised when Peter Ryder broke through Thistle's defence and from a great shooting range, drove the ball hard for goal. Ferguson anticipated the shot accurately and with his quick relexes saved the day.
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