The Northern League is already turning into a battle to decide which three teams will join Auckland City in this year’s National League.
After eight rounds, the Navy Blues have built a big lead while their nearest challengers continue to mix their form.
Here’s our round-up of round eight:
Solid defence sends warning to City’s rivals
Auckland City have a seven-point lead in the Northern League after a typically efficient 3-0 win against Manukau United at Walter Massey Park.
While their strike force added three more to the season’s tally, their rivals will no doubt have noted the clean sheet which is making this year’s edition of the Navy Blues so difficult to beat.
Striker Emiliano Tade opened the scoring in the 17th minute with his fifth goal of the season.
Mario Ilich scored City’s second after 35 minutes, sending the Blues 2-0 up when the sides went into the break.
Striker Angus Kilkolly continued his assault on the league’s Golden Boot, scoring his eighth goal in as many games with 63 minutes gone.
That ended the scoring but City’s formidable defence made it impossible for Manukau to find a way back into the game.
In eight rounds, the City defence has been breached only four times.
Main photo: Auckland City … relentless in their pursuit of another title. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Takapuna pull off upset against title challengers Birkenhead
A late goal by substitute Thomas Miller earned Takapuna a 2-1 upset win at Birkenhead United’s Shepherds Park.
The win demonstrated Takapuna’s ability to more than hold their own in the Northern League after promotion to the competition this year.
They took the lead after only 14 minutes through captain Connor Cahill-Fahey and Takapuna took the 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
The home side came out looking for a leveller and it came in the 72nd minute through Luke Jorgensen.
Takapuna coach Chris Milicich went to his bench and brought on three fresh players for the final push.
It paid off when substitute Miller struck the winner in the 83rd minute.
The loss sends Birkenhead down the table to fourth, on goal difference from their two Waikato rivals.
Second-half penalty turns game in favour of Wanderers
Hamilton Wanderers lead the chase to catch runaway Northern League leaders Auckland City.
The Blues picked up a valuable three points beating Bay Olympic 2-0 in Auckland.
The sides played out a scoreless first half before the game turned in the 55th minute when referee Chris Trent awarded the visitors a penalty.
Joe Harris scored from the spot to give Wanderers the lead.
Wanderers doubled their lead in the 70th minute through Xavier Pratt.
The Wanderers defence, the second meanest in the competition, held out the home side to secure the win.
Melville stay in top four contention with 2-0 win at Gower Park
Melville United clinched a 2-0 win against Auckland United with a late penalty at Gower Park.
The sides had fought a scoreless first half before Stafford Dowling put Melville ahead in the 62nd minute, his third goal of the season.
The visitors lost their composure in the second spell, collecting four yellow cards from referee CK Kawana-Waugh and giving away a penalty with seven minutes remaining.
Substitute Ryen Lawrence put the penalty away to effectively end the contest.
Improving Springs send Suburbs to fifth defeat of season
Eastern Suburbs lost for the fifth time this season, going down 2-1 to an improving Western Springs.
While their Seddon Fields ground is being resurfaced, Springs are without a home advantage and this game was played at North Harbour Stadium.
Suburbs took the lead in the 19th minute through Finn Caughey.
Kayne Vincent’s third goal of the season levelled the score in the 38th minute.
Teenager Dawson Straffon put Springs head for the first time in the game three minutes before half-time.
The second half produced a deadlock with neither side able to find a way through.
The loss leaves Suburbs only a point above the relegation zone.
Shore and Waiheke share six-goal thriller
The bottom two sides in the Northern League provided the competition’s most incident-packed game as North Shore United and Waiheke United shared a 3-3 draw.
Both coaches will lose sleep over their teams’ inability to defend but spectators at Allen Hill Stadium enjoyed end-to-end football.
The home side took the lead after 10 minutes through Sebastian Vanneste.
Waiheke levelled in the 39th minute when Eyob Tekalion found the net.
As the sides prepared to go into their half-time break, Shore’s Giovanni Peredo gave his side a 2-1 lead.
In the second half, the visitors poured on the pressure and scored twice to go in front 3-2.
Their goals came from Lautaro Latorre (74′) and Elijah Timmins-Scanlon (85′).
As referee Jack Henderson indicated the game was going into added time, it looked as though Waiheke could secure their first win of the season and leapfrog Shore on the table.
But there was still time for one last twist.
Shore’s Mohammed Faheem scored the equaliser five minutes into added time, forcing the sides to split the points and remain locked in their efforts to clear the foot of the table.
Games played Saturday May 7, 2022
Birkenhead United 1 (Luke Jorgensen 72′)
Takapuna 2 (Connor Cahill-Fahey 14′, Thomas Millar 83′)
North Shore United 3 (Sebastian Vanneste 10′, Giovanni Peredo 45+1′, Mohammed Faheem 90+5′)
Waiheke United 3 (Eyob Tekalion 39′, Lautaro Latorre 74′, Elijah Timmins-Scanlon 85′)
Manukau United 0
Auckland City 3 (Emiliano Tade 17′, Mario Ilich 35′, Angus Kilkolly 63′)
Western Springs 2 (Kayne Vincent 38′, Dawson Straffon 42′)
Eastern Suburbs 1 (Finn Caughey 19′)
Melville United 2 (Stafford Dowling 62′, Ryen Lawrence 83′ pen)
Auckland United 0
Bay Olympic 0
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Joe Harris 55′ pen, Xavier Pratt 70′)
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