By Jonno Ross
It’s only round three but a match-up between Bucklands Beach and Hibiscus Coast is likely to identify the early favourites for this year’s Lotto NRFL second division title.
Both have started the season strongly and their attacks are led by two of the deadliest strikers in the competition.
Here’s our preview of the round, with our recommendations for the neutral spectator:
Bucklands Beach (1st) v Hibiscus Coast (2nd)
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Auckland
Bucklands Beach probably could not have wished for a better start to the season, sitting atop the league table (thanks to a significant goal difference) after beating Beachlands Maraetai 7-1.
After relegation from division one last season, their goal for this campaign is to go straight back up.
Often, players find it difficult to hit form from the start of a season but marksman Sean Latimer is on fire already, having scored five goals in two games, of which four came against Beachlands last week.
It’s tight at the top of the table with four teams on the same points and only being separated by goal difference.
With Hibiscus Coast level on points, and with the next best goal difference, the winner of this encounter is likely to be top of the league come Saturday night.
Hibiscus Coast also have a striker running hot, in the form of Adam Dickinson. He has found the net in both his games, having scored four goals already.
Hibiscus and Bucklands have both played Franklin United, and they both came away with a 3-2 victory.
That tells me this is going to be a close game, and I can’t pick a winner.
What’s certain is that whoever wins this one, they can be seen as early contenders for the title. And this will be a battle of the strikers — will it be Latimer or Dickinson whose name stands out in the weekend’s results?
Other fixtures (with current league placings):
Franklin United (8th) v Claudelands Rovers (4th)
Navigation Homes Stadium, Pukekohe, 3pm
Click here for story – 12,000-seater stadium to host Franklin United’s game against Rovers >>>>
Oratia United (7th) v Northland (5th)
Parrs Park, Auckland, 3pm
Cambridge (9th) v West Auckland (6th)
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge 3pm
How they stand
Last weekend’s games
Friends of Football writer Jonno Ross is a former New Zealand U-20 goalkeeper who is the team manager for Mount Albert Ponsonby. He supports the All Whites, the Football Ferns, the Wellington Phoenix and Arsenal.
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