By Jonno Ross
The two promoted sides in Lotto NRFL division two are setting the pace but both face tricky fixtures this weekend.
Top-placed Ngaruawahia United, promoted from the WaiBOP Premiership, face local rivals Cambridge who are after their third win on end after suddenly finding winning form.
West Auckland, promoted from the NRF Conference, moved into third place after a Wednesday night win against Franklin United. They are off to play second-placed Bucklands Beach in a game that should be a test for both.
Here’s our preview of the round:
Cambridge (8th) v Ngaruawahia United (1st)
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge
Cambridge have had an odd start to their season, experiencing highs and lows already and we’re only up to round five!
The Reds lost their opening three fixtures, conceding 10 goals and only scoring twice.
Things were starting to look dire. But they travelled to Whangarei for round four and pulled themselves together for a creditable 2-0 win against Northland.
Then, last weekend, they pulled off one of the upsets of the Chatham Cup first round, defeating Onehunga Mangere United 2-1, a good result against a side coming third in the division above them.
These results should deliver a Cambridge team full of belief and confidence, and a win in this Waikato derby will be massive, lifting them away from the lower end of the table and giving them a mid-table platform on which to build.
Ngaruawahia United got off to an absolute flyer this season, after winning promotion to division two.
They top the table and are the only undefeated side in the division.
They are strong favourites to be promoted to division one but they can’t go into any of the games assuming that they’re going to win, and that was proven in last week’s Chatham Cup game against Sunday league side Sperm Whales, where they were beaten 2-1 in the biggest upset of the round.
The Green Machine will need to learn from last week’s mistakes by coming into this game with a strong mindset to come away from John Kerkhof Park with the three points and to stay top of the league.
Other fixtures (with current league placings)
Oratia United (10th) v Beachlands Maraetai (9th)
Parrs Park, Auckland, 3pm
Bucklands Beach (2nd) v West Auckland (3rd)
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Auckland, 3pm
Hibiscus Coast (5th) v Claudelands Rovers (4th)
Stanmore Bay Park, Whangaparoa, 3pm
Franklin United P
Rescheduled to June 4, 2022
How they stand
Last weekend’s games
Click here to read our round-up of results from last weekend >>>>
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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