By Jonno Ross
The first title of the winter season could be decided by Saturday evening as Auckland City close in on the Northern League title.
The women’s NRFL Premier League title might also be pretty much sorted too, depending on results of games on Friday and Sunday.
For the neutrals
If you’re looking for the games we’re picking to be the most entertaining, we suggest the following for football fans in the North:
Our weekend gets off to an exciting start with a couple of floodlit games.
Our first fixture is from the men’s Northern League where in-form Western Springs host Bay Olympic.
Western Springs will look to extend their five-match unbeaten run to stay hot on the tails of Birkenhead United who sit one place ahead of them on the table, leading by three points in fourth position.
Kick-off is at 7.15pm under the lights at Seddon Fields.
In the other fixture of the night, we head to the NRFL Women’s Premier League to see a top-of-the-table clash between second-placed Western Springs and first-placed Eastern Suburbs.
This is a crucial fixture for both teams because with only two rounds left after this weekend, the winner of this match could effectively take the title. Good luck to both teams!
The men’s Northern League is getting down to the business end as key fixtures will determine who takes the title and which clubs can start thinking of National League football.
After suffering their heaviest loss since their amalgamation (a 4-1 loss to Western Springs), Auckland United will want to bounce back with a win against third bottom-placed North Shore United. Kick-off is at 3pm at Allen Hill Stadium.
In the day’s tastiest fixture, Birkenhead United are at home against the flying Auckland City.
The sides have the league’s leading goalscorers with Birkenhead’s Alexander Greive leading the chart with 17 goals and Auckland City’s Angus Kilkolly just behind him on 16 goals.
This is an important fixture for both teams. Birkenhead need the three points to stay in the top four, whereas a win for Auckland City would see them claim the title with a game in hand and three rounds to go. Kick-off is at 3pm at Shepherd’s Park.
Men’s Northern League’s other fixtures:
- West Coast Rangers v Manukau United
- Hamilton Wanderers v Northern Rovers
- Melville United v Eastern Suburbs
To the Lotto NRFL Men’s Division 1, and the Match of the Day sees Takapuna playing away at Mount Albert Ponsonby.
Takapuna are the in-form side in the league, sitting in second place with a game in hand, and without defeat in 11 matches.
Both sides have the best goal difference in the league and with Takapuna winning the reverse fixture in an exciting 3-2 game, we can expect another enthralling encounter.
Can Takapuna do the double over their opponents this week and go top of the league? Kick-off is at 3pm at Anderson Park.
In our other chosen fixture of the day, we see fifth-placed East Coast Bays face third-placed Albany United.
With only one win in their last three matches for both sides, both will want to get back on track and stay in the running for promotion spots.
A win for Albany could see them claim back second spot depending on other results, while a win for East Coast Bays could see them go to fourth place. Kick-off is at 3pm at Bay City Park.
Lotto NRFL Men’s Division 1 other fixtures:
- Manurewa v Waitemata
- Ellerslie v Metro
- Bucklands Beach v Tauranga City
In the Lotto NRFL Men’s Division 2, we have two teams level on points in third and fourth position separated only by goal difference, looking to close the gap on promotion places. They are third-placed Franklin United, who play 11th-placed Papatoetoe.
Despite their difference in league positions, Franklin United only just squeezed a result in the reverse fixture with a 3-2 win. This won’t be an easy game as Papatoetoe will be anxious to escape the relegation battle they are in. Kick-off is at 3pm at Drury Sports Complex.
Level on points with Franklin are Beachlands Maraetai who host Claudelands Rovers.
This won’t be an easy game for Beachlands who have dropped points in their last two matches, and with the pressure on needing the win to close the gap on second spot.
Claudelands certainly won’t make it easy for them, having proved they are capable of beating anyone in the league, overcoming Fencibles twice and also beating league leaders Onehunga Mangere United during this campaign. Kick-off is at 3pm at Te Puru Park.
We wrap up the weekend of football with the remaining fixtures of the NRFL Women’s Premier League.
Third-placed Northern Rovers face Ellerslie. Rovers want the win to close the gap with Western Springs.
Can markswoman Liz Savage add to her goal tally of 10 goals for Rovers to keep in the running for Golden Boot? Kick-off is at 1pm at McFetridge Park.
Our last selected fixture of the weekend is Hamilton Wanderers at home to Auckland United. Kick-off is at 1pm at Porritt Stadium.
Main photo: Women’s Premier League leaders Eastern Suburbs … a crucial game on Friday night. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.