By Jonno Ross
After 10 games, Auckland City’s match stats are intimidating … 34 goals scored, only five goals conceded.
It must be difficult for opponents to go into their games with genuine belief they can upset the Navy Blues who are currently cantering away with the Northern League.
This week’s contender is Auckland United and they’ll need to do everything right — and with the right frame of mind — to pull of an upset.
Meanwhile, we also like a mid-table game for entertainment value, as neither side can afford to lose if they have hopes of making the top four.
Here’s our preview of the round, with our recommendations for the neutral spectator:
Bay Olympic (6th) v Western Springs (7th)
Olympic Park, Auckland
After losing 4-1 to Auckland United last week, and not being able to secure back-to-back wins since the first two games of the season, Bay Olympic need to recover in time for this mid-table clash with Western Springs.
If sixth-placed Bay have their sights set on finishing in the top four, they need to regard this game as a ‘must win’.
Now six points adrift of the top four, a loss will make things worse as seventh-placed Springs could overtake them in the table with a win.
A win to Bay, and the knowledge they’re playing struggling North Shore United a week later, could change everything in their expectations for the second half of the season.
Western Springs have much in common with their Saturday opponents. Separated only by goal difference, with the same number of goals scored, and no player who has scored more than three goals this season, the sides also share the same lack of consistency.
Given their records, this game has a draw written all over it.
However, I get the impression that Springs have accepted this year is one for development, with lower expectations than those at Olympic Park.
So I’m picking Bay Olympic will be hungrier and will come away with the win — my bold prediction is 2-1 to the home side.
Auckland City (1st) v Auckland United (4th)
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
A quick quiz — when do you think Auckland City last lost a game in the Northern League?
A month ago? Two months?
The Navy Blues haven’t lost since August 14 last year. That’s 11 games without defeat (their last was a 4-3 loss to Birkenhead United) and they won’t have any intention of spoiling their streak this weekend.
Last week’s 4-1 win against Eastern Suburbs was their seventh in a row, and their up-front firepower of Angus Kilkolly, Emiliano Tade and Ryan de Vries (20 goals between them already) is daunting for any opponent.
But sooner or later, someone will find a way to upset the runaway league leaders.
Auckland United head to Kiwitea Street after two wins in a row — a 4-2 win against North Shore United and a 4-1 victory against Bay Olympic last week.
They seem to have found form after a two-week speed wobble when they drew against winless Waiheke United and then succumbed to Melville United 2-0.
But United will need to do everything right, in every part of the pitch, to try to peg back a rampant Auckland City.
Whatever chances they create, United will need to be clinical and put them away. They won’t get second chances.
Depending on other results, United could be anywhere between second and fourth by Saturday night.
I’m predicting a result that will be closer than many expect — say, 2-1 to Auckland City.
Other fixtures (with current league placings)
Manukau United (8th) v Birkenhead United (3rd)
Walter Massey Park 1, Mangere East, 3pm
Melville United (2nd) v Hamilton Wanderers (5th)
Gower Park, Hamilton, 3pm
Takapuna (9th) v Waiheke United (12th)
Tahoroto Park, Auckland, 3pm
Eastern Suburbs (10th) v North Shore United (11th)
Madills Farm, Auckland, 3pm
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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