The race for the Lotto NRFL second division has been blown wide open after leaders Ngaruawahia United suffered their first defeat of the season.
The Waikato side were beaten 5-2 by fourth-placed Bucklands Beach, leaving Ngaruawahia United, West Auckland and Hibscus Coast all scrapping over the title with only two rounds to go.
What juices up the title race further is that Hibiscus Coast meet Ngaruawahia United next weekend, and then they play West Auckland in the final round on September 3.
Main photo: Bucklands Beach … toppled leaders Ngaruawahia 5-2. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Here’s our round-up of latest games:
Strong start proves vital as Bucklands Beach topple leaders
Three goals in the opening quarter proved vital as Bucklands Beach beat Ngaruawahia United 5-2 at Centennial Park, bursting the bubble of the Green Machine’s season-long unbeaten run.
Leading scorer Sander Waterland fired Bucklands Beach into the lead after 12 minutes and then an own goal by Samuel Nahna put the home side on the rack.
Striker Sean Latimer, back from suspension, made it 3-0 for the visitors with a goal in the 23rd minute.
After turning around 0-3 down, Ngaruawahia needed a break and it came in the 57th minute when referee Andrew Mitchell awarded a penalty.
Eder Franchini Pasten put the spot kick away, reducing the deficit to 3-1.
Four minutes later, Waterland restored the three-goal margin with his 18th goal of the season.
Marko Memedovic responded with another Ngaruawahia goal in the 66th minute, reducing the gap to 4-2.
Carl Burgoyne struck the fifth goal for Bucklands Beach with eight minutes to go, putting the result beyond reach of the home side.
The only black mark on the day for Bucklands Beach was the stoppage time red card for substitute Danny Mackenzie.
Diamond hat-trick makes Coast stumble in title race
Hibiscus Coast dropped two vital points in their run at the divisional title — and it could have been worse but for a late equaliser from Zachary Newman who earned them a 3-3 draw at Northland.
The game was full of incident after Conor Felstead got Hibiscus Coast off to a flying start with his goal in the 7th minute.
However, Diamond scored goals for Northland in the 29th and 41st minutes to give the home side a 2-1 half-time lead at Tikipunga Park.
Ten minutes after the break, Diamond completed his hat-trick.
But Diamond then copped a straight red card in the 65th minute for a bad tackle, leaving 10-man Northland to defend their 3-1 lead.
Coast’s first step to recovery was provided by Geoffrey Zwaneveld, when the Northland player put into his own net after 73 minutes.
The home side tried to hang on for the win but substitute Newman found the equaliser three minutes into stoppage time.
The point could prove crucial in the final table calculations in a fortnight.
Challengers keep up pressure with win against 10-man Rovers
West Auckland continue their title campaign after a 3-1 win against Claudelands Rovers at Brains Park.
The win was built on first-half goals from Matthew Hearn, in the 31st minute, and captain Gordon Riddoch after 38 minutes.
The Aucklanders went into half-time with their 2-0 lead and then extended it to 3-0 within two minutes of the restart, when Stewart Mackay found the net.
Rovers clawed back a goal in the 65th minute through Ellis Breadmore.
Any chance of a further revival was diluted when Thomas Mouncher was sent off for a second yellow card.
West Auckland moved above Hibiscus Coast on goal difference — a solitary goal separates them from the Coasters.
There’s a fair chance that West Auckland will be playing for the title when they meet Coast on September 3.
Late goal earns Oratia a point against Franklin
A late goal by Tyler Cody earned bottom-placed Oratia United a 2-2 draw against Franklin United who finished the match with 10 men.
Franklin had taken the initiative in the first spell, taking the lead through Pedro Gallardo in the 15th minute.
Chris Abbott added a second goal for Franklin in the 21st minute.
On the stroke of half-time, Oratia replied through Michael Graham, giving Franklin a 2-1 lead at the break.
Franklin’s chances of holding on for the win took a dive in the 78th minute when Keshav Singh was given a straight red card for serious foul play.
As the 10 men of Franklin clung to their lead, Cody found the equaliser with a minute to go.
Beachlands Maraetai deny Cambridge comeback for fourth win
Lowly Beachlands Maraetai had to withstand a second-half comeback from Cambridge to eke out a 3-2 win at Te Puru Park.
They had seemingly been heading for a comfortable win when the home side went to a 3-0 lead with three goals in a 12-minute first half spell.
Alexander Thurbon opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.
Two minutes later, Aaron Parry made it 2-0.
Then, Jamie Birch scored a third from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute.
After the break, Cambridge went after Beachlands Maraetai, pulling back a goal in the 49th minute through Glen Carmichael.
Leading scorer Josh Clarkin then chipped in with a goal in the 78th minute.
But neither side could find a late goal and Beachlands Maraetai claimed their fourth win of the season, moving within two points of Waikato clubs Cambridge and Claudelands Rovers, and capable of clearing the table’s bottom two.
Games played Saturday August 20, 2022
Ngaruawahia United 2 (Eder Franchini Pasten 57′ pen, Marko Memedovic 66′)
Bucklands Beach 5 (Sander Waterland 12′, 61′, own goal 19′, Sean Latimer 23′, Carl Burgoyne 82′)
Beachlands Maraetai 3 (Alexander Thurbon 22′, Aaron Parry 24′, Jamie Birch 32′ pen)
Cambridge 2 (Glen Carmichael 49′, Josh Clarkin 78′)
Oratia United 2 (Michael Graham 45′, Tyler Cody 89′)
Franklin United 2 (Pedro Gallardo 15′, Chris Abbott 21′)
Northland 3 (Finn Diamond 29′, 41′, 56′)
Hibiscus Coast 3 (Conor Felstead 7′, own goal 73′, Zachary Newman 90+3′)
West Auckland 3 (Matthew Hearn 31′, Gordon Riddoch 38′, Stewart Mackay 47′)
Claudelands Rovers 1 (Ellis Breadmore 65′)
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