The scramble for top four places in the Northern League has turned in favour of Auckland clubs after setbacks for Hamilton’s two leading clubs.
Melville United lost and Hamilton Wanderers drew in a round of results that saw leaders Auckland City keep a 12-point break on the chasing pack.
Here’s our round-up of latest games:
Schnell scores on debut to spark Birkenhead win over rivals Melville
New signing Dane Schnell scored in his debut for Birkenhead United, sparking an important 2-0 win against Melville United at Hamilton’s Gower Park.
Age group international Schnell moved from Western Springs in midweek and was immediately included in the Birkenhead starting line-up by coach Paul Hobson.
Less than half an hour into the game, Schnell put the visitors ahead, a lead they took into half-time.
In the second half, Birkenhead doubled their lead after 63 minutes when Luke Jorgensen scored from the penalty spot.
— Birkenhead United AFC (@BUAFC_NZ) July 2, 2022
That’s how the score stayed and the win makes Birkenhead’s position in the top four fairly secure, opening up a nine-point lead on fifth-placed Hamilton Wanderers.
Double substitution pays dividends for league leaders
A double substitution by coach Albert Riera broke the deadlock for Auckland City as they took an hour to exert their superiority over Waiheke United.
The match at the Onetangi Sports Complex was scoreless until Riera signalled substitutes Ryan De Vries and Reid Drake to take the field in the 57th minute.
Four minutes later, striker De Vries put the Navy Blues ahead.
Then, in the 65th minute, Drake also found the net to celebrate his 100th first team appearance for the club.
Main photo: Reid Drake … a hundred games for City. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
The win means City have taken 46 league points from a possible 48 — and they have a 12-point lead over nearest rivals Birkenhead.
The victory also means Auckland City retain the Steve Sumner Cup, a trophy that honours the memory of one of New Zealand’s greatest players.
Click here for more about the Steve Sumner Cup >>>>
Watch the stream of the match here:
Early goal sinks Suburbs as United improve league position
Auckland United’s chances of a top-four position improved with a 1-0 win against Eastern Suburbs at Madills Farm, on a day when rivals Hamilton Wanderers dropped points at home.
United inflicted their damage early when a smart move down the right flank led to a cross into the Suburbs box, turned into the goal by Nic Zambrano after only five minutes.
That was the only scoring of the game but it was all United needed to consolidate their league placing.
Watch the stream of the match here:
Wanderers drop important points to Takapuna
Hamilton Wanderers’ 2-2 draw at home to Takapuna might prove costly at the end of the regular season when the league’s top four sides are confirmed.
The draw sees Wanderers fall five points behind four-placed Auckland United, and puts pressure on the Waikato side to put together a winning streak.
Antonio Bonkovich put Takapuna ahead after 24 minutes.
Four minutes later, Wanderers’ skipper Derek Tieku levelled with his 11th goal of the season, a goal that takes him clear at the top of the league’s Golden Boot table.
The teams turned around at 1-1.
Joss Neale gave Takapuna the lead in the 62nd minute and as the final whistle neared, it looked like Wanderers were going to drop all three points.
But substitute John Clout salvaged a point with an equaliser in the 87th minute, only four minutes after his introduction to the game.
Takapuna’s Nicholas Smith was sent off in added time, having picked up two yellow cards in a 10-minute spell.
Flying start key to win by 10-man Manukau United
A storming start by attack-minded Manukau United was the key to their 4-2 win against Bay Olympic.
United raced to a 3-0 lead within 20 minutes, thanks to goals from Joao Moreira (first and 20th minutes) and Boon Ozawa (7′).
Darren White pulled back a goal in the 23rd minute to stop the onslought.
Manukau were then reduced to 10 men on the half-hour when Maro Bonsu-Maro was given a straight red when he raised a leg and made contact with a defender’s head.
Despite being outnumbered, Manukau extended their half-time lead to 4-1 when Moreira completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot a couple of minutes before the break.
In the second half, White scored his second for Olympic, suggesting a comeback was possible.
But Manukau used their four subs wisely, working down the clock to take home the win.
Springs take advantage of leaky Shore defence
Western Springs took advantage of playing the division’s leakiest defence to put six past bottom side North Shore United at Allen Hill Stadium.
Springs won the game 6-1, scoring three in each half.
The visitors scored first through Oscar Browne when he netted from a tap in at the far post in the 7th minute.
Fransesco Marignoli levelled for Shore in the 28th minute.
Dawson Straffon restored Springs’ lead in the 32nd minute before Adama Coulibaly added a third with a well-struck volley into the bottom corner of the Shore goal.
Straffon scored his second of the game in the 54th minute when he sent ‘keeper Silvio Rodic the wrong way from the penalty spot.
Wade Malony stretched the lead to 5-1 when he finished with a back-post header in the 65th minute.
Two minutes later, Oscar Ramsay completed the rout with a curling shot into the top corner.
To Shore’s credit, they stopped the rot for the last quarter of the game but their sorry season continues.
Games played date Saturday July 2, 2022
Melville United 0
Birkenhead United 2 (Dane Schnell 27′, Luke Jorgensen 63′ pen)
Bay Olympic 2 (Darren White 23′, 51′)
Manukau United 4 (Joao Moreira 1′, 20′, 42′ pen, Boon Ozawa 7′)
Waiheke United 0
Auckland City 2 (Ryan De Vries 61′, Reid Drake 65′)
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Derek Tieku 28′, John Clout 87′)
Takapuna 2 (Antonio Bonkovich 24′, Joss Neale 62′)
North Shore United 1 (Fransesco Marignoli 28′)
Western Springs 6 (Oscar Browne 7′, Dawson Straffon 32′, 54′ pen, Adama Coulibaly 40′, Wade Molony 65′, Oscar Ramsay 67′,
Eastern Suburbs 0
Auckland United 1 (Nic Zambrano 5′)
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