|Timaru City beat Northern Hearts for the first time in a decade
Reporter: CHRIS HYDE
Is the dynasty over?
Timaru City have beaten Northern Hearts for the first time in a decade and in doing so have dealt a hammer blow to the reds' chances of an eighth-straight South Canterbury Football League title.
A stunning goal to Hamish Clark on the hour mark and a breakaway goal to Nasy Khynku in the 83rd minute gave City a precious 2-0 victory on Tuesday night.
Hearts remain second, behind Pleasant Point on the table by a single point, and the Point team gathered at the Caledonian Ground sidelines to watch cheered both goals with as much delirium as the home fans.
Having already sat out their bye, Point also have a game in hand on Hearts. They will back themselves not to slip up in their final five games, of which none are against top-three opposition.
Hearts and on the the other hand must beat third-placed West End and hope Point faulter twice if they are to keep their extraordinary league streak alive.
City were good for their win, the young side seemingly fitter and hungrier in the second half than the champs who have had a busy schedule over the past three days.
The first half under floodlights was all but a write off as both sides struggled for fluency.
Hearts had the better of the play early on but City had the best chance of the half when Neil Smith sauntered through Hearts' defence with two minutes remaining and fed Khynku one-on-one with Hearts keeper Matt Chambers.
Chambers kept his goal in tact but he could not keep out one of the goals of the season from Clark 15 minutes after the break.
Clark found himself in an inch of space outside the box and hooked a bobbling ball gloriously over Chambers, off the crossbar, and down into the net.
Hearts pressed hard in response. They had to.
Todd Burtenshaw hit the side netting, Andrew Mehrtens' beautiful run ended with a shot sprayed just wide, Kevin McLaughlin's effort was tipped over the bar and Rowan Hewson flashed a cross across that nearly snuck in.
But it was City's night and after a Hearts header destined for the net hit a City chest on the line, Khynku was gifted a long ball to run onto.
The hard-working striker burned Ricky McLeod with pure pace, bashed a shot into Chambers, and then tapped the parry home.
The win moves City up into fifth on the table after a difficult start to the season.