Caleb Lokpo scored during his side’s 3 - 1 win over Northern Storm, to claim the CPL championship. Photo: Tim Jarrett
Caleb Lokpo scored during his side’s 3 - 1 win over Northern Storm, to claim the CPL championship. Photo: Tim Jarrett

Premiers crowned as Coastal Premier League cut short

THE Coffs City United Lions have been crowned the Coastal Premier League champions after the fledgling competition was cut short.

The move came after the NSW Government tightened coronavirus restrictions, preventing competitive fixtures from taking place across regional zones.

With teams from Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Kempsey and Taree competing in the CPL, the administration announced it would crown the inaugural champions after nine rounds and then split the competition in two for the rest of the season.

That set up an enthralling final run in, and with Macleay Valley Rangers falling to Coffs Coast Tigers 3-1 in their midweek fixture, it left three sides Port Saints, Coffs City and Boambee – in contention for the trophy.

Saints were in the box seat, sitting two points clear of Coffs City with Boambee third.

City needed to win and for Saints to lose or draw and Boambee needed the others to lose while beating Sawtell by more than two goals.

With everything to play for, the only thing standing in Saints’ way was local rivals Port United who were eager to spoil the party, and the seventh placed side did just that.

Saints’ 2-0 loss to United meant Coffs City were able to claim the inaugural CPL title after

goals from Kelleher, Goddard and Lokpo sealed a 3-1 win over Northern Storm.

The win secured the title for both the Lions’ First and Second grade sides, sending a clear message to their competition that this was a club in the ascendency.

It was the third time the CPL was forced to change the competition but it has undoubtably been a success, with high quality football and close competition breathing life into football across the regions.

There will now be up to a further ten rounds of football across the two regions, with the Coffs Harbour sides vying to become champions of the northern conference and the rest battling it out to be champions of the south.

“What an incredible birth year this has been for the Coastal Premier League. Less than two months into the season, we’re now at version three of what we envisaged at the start of the season. It really is unprecedented,” North Coast Football general manager Andrew Woodward said.

“The feedback from clubs was great. They were enjoying the inter-region competition and the higher standard of football week-in, week-out.

“The good news is that we will have that high standard for the rest of the season, comply with government requirements and conduct football in a COVID-safe manner.”