Birkenhead United and Auckland United have moved to within touching distance of top four places in the Northern League — and qualification for the National League — with important wins in their latest games.
Chances are both sides will make the cut with one more win from their three remaining fixtures, depending on other results.
However, Melville United’s loss to Auckland United increases the chances of a showdown between the club and their arch rivals Hamilton Wanderers for the fourth and final spot.
Auckland City have already clinched the league title and qualification for National League.
Main photo: Hamilton Wanderers’ captain Derek Tieku … last minute winner keeps his side’s hopes alive. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Here’s our round-up of latest games:
Auckland United take upper hand in push for top four place
Auckland United took a big step towards qualifying for the National League with a 2-0 against Melville United at Keith Hay Park.
The win means the Aucklanders can probably book a place in the national competition with one more win from their three remaining games.
However, injury-troubled Melville have fallen to within two points of fifth-placed Hamilton Wanderers, meaning the two Waikato sides are likely to be scrapping over the fourth and final qualifying place.
The teams appeared to be heading into half-time, deadlocked at 0-0.
However, the turning point in the game came a minute into first half stoppage time when Auckland United were awarded a free kick 25 metres out.
Ignacio Machuca Chi struck the ball hard and low, past the defensive wall, and Melville ‘keeper Max Tommy parried it.
Auckland United’s Matthew Conroy reacted quickest and struck the rebound into the net.
The side doubled their lead through Josh Redfearn who capitalised on a mix-up between Melville defenders Aaron Scott and Luke Searle to break free and create a one-on-one with ‘keeper Tommy.
Redfearn slipped the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
That’s how it stayed and the result leaves Melville in need of a return to form before they meet Wanderers in the last game of the season.
Last-minute goal keeps Wanderers hopes alive for top four spot
A goal on full-time by skipper Derek Tieku has kept alive Hamilton Wanderers late charge for a top four place and qualification for the National League.
The Northern League’s top goalscorer registered his 16th goal of the season when he produced the winner in Wanderers’ 2-1 win against Bay Olympic at Hamilton’s Porritt Stadium.
Wanderers had taken the lead midway through the first half through Tesco Grunwald but their Auckland visitors levelled on the half-hour through Jayden Scott.
The teams were locked 1-1 at half-time and the second spell became a tense affair with six bookings issued by referee Andres Castro, three to each side.
Just as the draw appeared likely, Tieku found his last gasp winner and Wanderers fans were soon to hear that local rivals Melville United had lost in Auckland, reducing the gap between them to two points.
Waiheke lift themselves off foot of table with first win
It’s taken 19 games but Waiheke United have finally won their first game since being promoted to the Northern League.
They beat North Shore United 2-0 at their Onetangi Sports Complex, a win that helps them climb above Shore on the league table.
The result confirms Shore’s relegation from the competition and makes Waiheke’s demise all but mathematically certain.
The sides played out a goalless first half but substitute Lionel Ngendahayo turned the game after coming off the bench at the start of the second half.
He scored in the 58th minute to give the home side their lead, and then added his second in the 72nd minute.
While Waiheke’s season in the Northern League has provided sideline atmosphere, courtesy of their passionate fans, the results on the pitches have been disappointing.
But they deserved a win, at least, and this game provided a fillip for their supporters.
Plenty of goals in derby as Birkenhead overpower Takapuna
Birkenhead United beat Shore rivals Takapuna 4-2 in an entertaining game at Taharoto Park.
Spectators had to wait till midway through the first half before the goals came but when they did, they came in a flurry.
Luke Jorgensen started the scoring when he converted from the penalty spot after 22 minutes.
Alex Connor-McClean doubled Birkenhead United’s lead in the 29th minute.
Rocked, Takapuna came storming back and were on even terms with four minutes.
First, Bronson Kelly found the net and then Jacob Reeves-Parmenter scored Takapuna’s second.
The sides went into the interval tied at 2-2.
Birkenhead began the second half well, going ahead through Connor-McClean’s second goal, in the 48th minute.
With 10 minutes to go, Dane Schnell stretched Birkenhead’s lead to 4-2.
Neither side could find a way through in the final minutes and the win keeps Birkenhead in second place on the table.
Mid-table sides share points in scoreless draw
Eastern Suburbs and Western Springs played out a goalless draw at Madills Farm.
The result keeps both sides in mid-table, safe from relegation and too far adrift to catch the top four contenders.
Games played Saturday August 13, 2022
Auckland United 2 (Matthew Conroy 45’+1′, Joshua Redfearn 72′)
Melville United 0
Waiheke United 2 (Lionel Ngendahayo 58′, 72′)
North Shore United 0
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Tesco Grunwald 23′, Derek Tieku 90′)
Bay Olympic 1 (Jayden Scott 30′)
Takapuna 2 (Bronson Kelly 31′, Jacob Reeves-Parmenter 33′)
Birkenhead United 4 (Luke Jorgensen 22′, Alex Connor-McClean 29′, 48′, Dane Schnell 80′)
Eastern Suburbs 0
Western Springs 0
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