The Queenstown Rovers men live to fight another season in the top league.
The Wakatipu-based men’s soccer team has managed to avoid relegation with a battling performance to claim a top team’s scalp.
Rovers ensured a minimum seventh-place finish in the FootballSouth Premier League by beating fifth-placed Green Island 3-2 away in Dunedin.
Rovers’ Ramzi Toumi scored a brace in the see-saw game.
The striker finished coolly from the penalty spot after eight minutes before Tom Cairns made it 2-0 after 18 minutes, a lead they held till halftime.
Green Island scored twice in quick succession at the start of the second half.
“It was extremely nerve-wracking – that was our season hanging in the balance right there,” coach and goalkeeper Steven Henderson says.
“More than that, we need to protect top-level football for the younger fellas coming through.
“If we’re not in that league, we’re the type of club that might well die a death.”
Two teams are expected to be relegated from the 10-team ODT-sponsored Premier League this season – although the league body is yet to confirm this.
Had Rovers lost, they’d have remained in the bottom two and needed a victory against second-placed Caversham this weekend to survive.
But the Green Island win saw them climb above Old Boys AFC and Mosgiel, who have both played all their games.
“Fortunately Ramzi got us the winner,” Henderson says.
“There were strong celebrations, pretty emotional, but as it sunk in it was relief more than anything else. We found form when it mattered.”
Rovers can now finish sixth if they beat Caversham at the Events Centre this Saturday – kick-off is 2.45pm.
“We can get another scalp this weekend and finish sixth, which we’re genuinely excited about actually.
“That would probably be a little more than we deserve but we’ll take it,” Henderson says.
Meanwhile, the Queenstown Rovers women’s team – which has already been crowned the Southland champions – won by default after Western Rovers failed to show last Sunday.
Rovers women won the Women’s Kolk Cup league last week for a second year in succession.