By Jonno Ross
Goal-hungry Bucklands Beach head to Hamilton on Saturday, eager to extend their lead in the Lotto NRFL second division with a win against Claudelands Rovers.
The pacesetters face a tricky game against Claudelands Rovers if the home side can rediscover the form that helped them win their opening two games.
Here’s our preview of the round, with our recommendations for the neutral spectator:
Claudelands Rovers (6th) v Bucklands Beach (1st)
Galloway Park, Hamilton, 3pm
Claudelands Rovers will want to get back to winning ways this weekend after a somewhat surprising 4-1 defeat away to Franklin United last weekend.
The key to a better Rovers performance will be ensuring their defence holds firm, particularly in the early stages of the game at Galloway Park.
Last weekend, they were two goals down after just 12 minutes. By half-time, the score was 4-0 and the game was all but over as a contest.
To their credit, Rovers came out better in the second half and won it 1-0.
They will need to be at their best defensively against Bucklands Beach, who are off to an absolute flyer, winning their first three games, and finding the net 13 times in only three outings.
Bucklands Beach will see their day in the Waikato as a chance to extend their two-point lead over second-placed Ngaruawahia United.
Once again, they will be trying to feed Sean Latimer who has scored in every game so far and has seven goals to his name, an early favourite in the division’s Golden Boot race.
Bucklands Beach are on fire and I don’t quite trust the Rovers defence yet, so I’m going to predict 3-0 to the away side.
Other fixtures (with current league placings):
Northland (3rd) v Cambridge (10th)
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm
Ngaruawahia United (2nd) v Oratia United (9th)
Centennial Park 1, Ngaruawahia, 3pm
Hibiscus Coast (4th) v Beachlands Maraetai (8th)
Stanmore Bay Park, Whangaparaoa, 3pm
West Auckland (5th) v Franklin United (7th)
Brains Park, Kelston
Both postponed games have been rescheduled to May 18.
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.
Our coverage of Northern League and Lotto NRFL men’s football is made possible through the support of our partners at Cube, specialists in print, design and signage. We encourage clubs and businesses to consider Cube when looking for professional help in their branding and promotional planning.