By Jonno Ross
The Matariki weekend provides Lotto NRFL second division games over Friday and Saturday with games for fans in Northland, Auckland and the Waikato.
We’re picking the mid-table clash between Cambridge and Franklin United as a high-scoring affair, while Ngaruawahia United’s match against Hibiscus Coast could see a new league leader.
Ngaruawahia stay top with a win but a draw could see Bucklands Beach go top; and a win to Coast could see them overhaul both the others.
Don’t you just love it when every game counts?
Here’s our preview of the round:
Cambridge (7th) v Franklin United (6th)
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge
For the first time this season, Cambridge have made it two league wins in a row, beating Oratia United 2-0, then beating Beachlands Maraetai comfortably 4-1.
Josh Clarkin has had a huge say in those two wins, scoring five of his team’s last six goals, putting him in third in the race for the division’s Golden Boot.
Cambridge will feel their recent Chatham Cup form suggests they are not a 7th-placed side in the league, especially after beating Division 1 side Onehunga Mangere United, and the Northern League’s North Shore United.
The Reds will look to feed off the form that earned them those victories, and if they do, I can see them being the dark horse of this competition.
A win for Cambridge could see them climb as high as 4th; a loss could see them drop to 8th.
Franklin United are struggling to find consistency in their results this season.
As their pattern suggests, when they win one, they lose the next one, then they will win the next one again.
Having said that, they (like Cambridge) have won two in a row for the first time this season, albeit playing the bottom two sides Northland and Oratia United.
United need Tim Richardson to stay fit and on form, as he leads the Golden Boot race with eight goals.
Both these teams will want to get out of mid-table, and this will be a battle between Clarkin v Richardson.
Bold prediction: I’m picking a good day for both strikers and a 3-2 win for Cambridge.
Other fixtures (with current league placings)
Beachlands Maraetai (8th) v West Auckland (4th)
Te Puru Park, Auckland, 3pm
Northland (9th) v Claudelands Rovers (5th)
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm
Ngaruawahia United (1st) v Hibiscus Coast (3rd)
Centennial Park 1, Ngaruawahia, 3pm
Oratia United (10th) v Bucklands Beach (2nd)
Parrs Park, 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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