A controversial double substitution after only 30 seconds highlighted the brittle nature of Northern League rules designed to boost the number of younger players in the competition.
Manukau United called two teenage starters to the sideline at the first break in play against Takapuna, replacing them with older, experienced players, both of whom went on to score crucial goals.
Main photo: Manukau substitute Maro Bonsu-Maro scored a double. File image: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
The match, won 3-2 by Manukau United, was live-streamed by NZ Football.
New competition rules this season oblige coaches to have under 20 players in their starting line-ups.
Here’s our round-up of round nine:
Leaders Auckland City continue to set the benchmark
Will any team be able to contain the Navy Blues this season?
It’s a reasonable question after another comfortable win — a 4-0 taming of Western Springs — and the maintenance of a seven-point buffer at the top of the league table.
Top goalscorer Angus Kilkolly had the first goal in the net after only two minutes at Kiwitea St, and the win was already starting to look inevitable.
Of concern, however, was the substitution of captain Angel Berlanga who had to come off in the second minute, replaced by Adam Mitchell.
Match programme: Click on cover to read Auckland City’s match programme.
Reid Drake doubled City’s lead after 27 minutes and the sides went into the dressing rooms with the home side 2-0 up.
Joe Lee extended City’s lead straight after the break and then All White Cam Howieson put the result beyond doubt with his side’s fourth goal after 51 minutes.
The problem for opposition teams is at both ends of the park. City’s goal difference after nine rounds is a stunning +26, thanks to a free-scoring forward line and the tightest defence in the competition.
Controversial substitutions provide Manukau United’s goalscorers
A double substitution after only 30 seconds enabled Manukau United to adhere to competition regulations and still utilise two experienced players, both of whom scored vital goals in their side’s 3-2 win at Takapuna.
The Northern League rules stipulate that sides must field under 20 players in their starting line-up.
Manukau had Leo Hall (16) and Caleb Prasad (19) on the pitch for the kick-off.
Thirty seconds later, when the ball went out of play for the first time, the Manukau bench signalled they wanted a double change, bringing on former Auckland City player Maro Bonsu-Maro (25) and Thomas Golding (22) who has played first team football with Auckland City, Waitakere United, Bay Olympic, Birkenhead United and Bucklands Beach.
The game continued with neither side able to take control.
With a minute to go to the break, Takapuna were awarded a free kick 30 metres out. Defender Nick Smith lashed it into the net with a thumping left-footed drive.
The sides turned around with Takapuna good for their 1-0 lead but the game blew open in a four-minute spell.
Substitute Golding scored in the 53rd minute, curling a clever pass from Mohamed Awad past ‘keeper Zak Edwards.
Fellow substitute Bonsu-Maro put Manukau 2-1 ahead a minute later when he exploited some slopping defending to get free in the box.
And in the 58th minute, Bonsu-Maro struck again, getting onto the end of perfectly-placed pass from Yousif Al-Kalisy.
Takapuna fought back with an 83rd-minute effort from Daniel Gleissner-Broom but the South Aucklanders managed the clock and went home with the points.
Birkenhead rediscover their mojo in Hamilton
After two disappointing losses, Birkenhead United badly needed a win at in-form Hamilton Wanderers’ Porritt Stadium.
They achieved it but left it till the last minute to win 2-1 in a game that dropped Hamilton Wanderers out of the competition’s top four — the spots that will deliver national league football to their holders later in the season.
Wanderers took the lead through Bee Hong after 25 minutes and took their 1-0 lead into the half-time break.
Birkenhead came out firing in the second half and quickly levelled the score when Jordan Toy found the net in the 48th minute.
The match seemed to be heading for a draw when Corban Piper scored the winner for the Aucklanders as the 90 minutes came up.
Melville extend winning streak to four
Melville United slipped into second place on the Northern League table with a 1-0 win against struggling Eastern Suburbs at Hamilton’s Gower Park.
It was Melville’s fourth win on end and Sam Wilkinson’s side is finding ways to win games, regardless of obstacles.
In this case, Melville were without injured trio Aaron Scott, Sean Liddicoat and Logan Wisnewski but the squad has sufficient depth this season to manage.
Top goalscorer Oliver Colloty, who has relished his move from the South Island, scored the game’s only goal, in the 31st minute.
Melville’s defence, which has conceded only eight goals this season, kept the clean sheet and the points were safe.
Auckland United come from behind to out-gun North Shore United
North Shore United’s defensive woes continue as the Northern League’s leakiest defence shipped four more goals, allowing Auckland United to secure a 4-2 win at Keith Hay Park.
Shore had taken the lead in the 18th minute through Harry Lissington and they looked as though they were going to take their advantage into United’s state-of-the-art changing rooms at half-time.
Instead, they lost concentration and allowed United captain Ross Haviland to level a minute before the break.
Match programme: Click on the cover to read Auckland United’s match programme.
In the second half, Auckland United changed the game, scoring three goals in a 10-minute spell.
Nicolas Zambrano got the first in the 62nd minute; substitute Josh Redfearn scored in the 72nd minute and All White midfielder Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi rammed home the advantage with a goal in the 75th minute.
Shore scored a late consolation goal through substitute Andrew Abba.
Winless Waiheke go down at home to Bay Olympic
Bottom-placed Waiheke United remain without a win after nine rounds, having lost their latest fixture 3-0 at home to Bay Olympic.
Roussin Nkoy put Olympic ahead in the 26th minute, the only score in the first half at Onetangi.
Straight after half-time, Harrison Byrne doubled the visitors’ lead.
Nkoy scored his second of the game in the 63rd minute and the job was as good as done.
The only relief for Waiheke is knowing North Shore United and Eastern Suburbs are in dire straits too, and one win could be enough for the islanders to leapfrog their nearest opponents.
It’s tough at the bottom …
Games played Saturday May 14, 2022
Auckland City 4 (Angus Kilkolly 2′, Reid Drake 27′. Joe Lee 48′, Cam Howieson 51′)
Western Springs 0
Takapuna 2 (Nick Smith 45′, Daniel Gleissner-Broom 83′)
Manukau United 3 (Thomas Goldings 53′, Maro Bonsu-Maro 54′, 58′)
Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Bee Hong 25′)
Birkenhead United 2 (Jordan Toy 48′, Corban Piper 90′)
Waiheke United 0
Bay Olympic 3 (Roussin Nkoy 26′, 63′, Harrison Byrne 47′)
Auckland United 4 (Ross Haviland 44′, Nicolas Zambrano 62′, Joshua Redfearn 72′, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi 75′)
North Shore United 2 (Harry Lissington 18′, Andrew Abba 86′)
Melville United 1 (Oliver Colloty 31′)
Eastern Suburbs 0
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