By Jonno Ross
How good is it to have football back?
After an intriguing and intense first round of fixtures last weekend, there’s plenty more action from the Northern League to keep club followers and the neutrals entranced.
Here’s our take on the games most likely to be hotly contested — and one that oozes the possibility of an upset.
(Numbers in brackets indicate current league positions)
Manukau United (2nd) v Auckland United (9th)
Murdoch Park, Auckland
Coming off a convincing 3-0 away victory against newly-promoted Waiheke United last weekend, Manukau United will fancy making it two from two when they host Auckland United on Saturday.
No doubt, they will also hope for other results to go their way so they can move up to top spot on the leaderboard.
Auckland United suffered a heartbreaking defeat last weekend, losing to Birkenhead United by a single goal that came in the 88th minute. They will want to bounce back strongly with a win but that won’t be easy.
These two sides are strong and capable of big things this season; this game is our pick to provide the most excitement of the round.
Auckland City (3rd) v Takapuna (4th)
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Auckland City started the defence of their title in the same manner as they finished last season, with a tight 2-1 victory against Melville United last week.
They go into the weekend as favourites to rack up consecutive wins as they face newly-promoted Takapuna.
But are we the only ones who get the whiff of an upset?
Last week, Takapuna returned to the top division for the first time in 12 years and faced Eastern Suburbs, who finished 3rd last year. But Takapuna pulled off the upset of the round, winning 1-0 through a Sam Robinson goal.
On the basis of that outing, they have shown they don’t intend to be pushovers in this league.
Can they pass the ultimate test against the reigning champions and pull off two huge upsets in a row? Head to Kiwitea St to find out — it’ll be a fascinating match-up.
Other fixtures (with current league placings):
Western Springs (6th) v Waiheke United (11th)
Seddon Fields, Western Springs, Auckland, 3pm
North Shore United (12th) v Birkenhead United (5th)
Allen Hill Stadium, Auckland, 3pm
Eastern Suburbs (10th) v Hamilton Wanderers (7th)
Madills farm, Auckland, 3pm
Melville United (8th) v Bay Olympic (1st)
Gower Park, Hamilton, 3pm