By Jonno Ross
Saturday’s north-of-the-bridge derby between Albany United and Northern Rovers has more at stake than their Lotto NRFL first division placings might suggest.
Albany are too close to the bottom for comfort while Rovers can climb as high as 4th place with a win.
Here’s how it looks for the only game in the division to go ahead this weekend:
Albany United (11th) v Northern Rovers (7th)
Rosedale Park, Albany, 3pm
Albany United find themselves in a spot of bother.
Currently in 11th place with just 13 points, they are only two points above bottom-placed Waitemata.
This week’s game against Northern Rovers is crucial as this is their game in hand on all the teams around them on the table.
Albany might feel they deserved more from last week’s game against Fencibles United when they lost 2-1 at home, with the deciding goal being scored from the spot in the 86th minute. It was a match full of drama, and Albany shot themselves in the foot with their ill-discipline, with Sam Jasper getting two yellow cards in the space of five minutes, and receiving his marching orders in the 90th minute.
Things didn’t get much better after the final whistle when Albany’s former All White and Wellington Phoenix player Jason Hicks was red-carded for comments made to the ref.
Without the suspended Jasper and Hicks, United will have to find something extra against Rovers.
Despite this, and the poor season-to-date record, United have enough ability to get a result.
Northern Rovers have had an up-and-down season, to say the least.
They have beaten teams they weren’t expected to beat (West Coast Rangers, Tauranga City, East Coast Bays etc.), and lost games they were expected to win.
Inconsistency (like most teams in this division) has definitely been an issue and their record tells us they have a 50% chance of getting a result — six wins and a draw, and seven losses.
Rovers won the reverse fixture in the opening round, 1-0, and three points will lift them to 4th in the league for the next seven days at least.
This is a difficult game to predict.
I think Albany are more desperate for a win — it would lift them to 10th spot — so I think they’ll just edge this one.
How they stand
Last weekend’s games
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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