Birkenhead United continue strong season start to lead Men’s National League

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Birkenhead United lead the Men’s National League after two rounds, thanks to a 4-2 win against Miramar Rangers in Wellington.

Looking over their shoulder, behind only on goal difference, are Auckland City who maintained their winning start to the season with a 2-0 win against Cashmere Technical at Kiwitea Street.

Down South, Christchurch United and Napier City Rovers shared the points with a 1-1 draw.

Main photo: Jonathan McNamara’s shot is deflected into the Christchurch United goal by defender Ben Lapslie.

Here’s our round-up of Saturday’s games:

Action-packed second half sees United and Rovers share points

The sides played out a scoreless first half, though both sides had chances.

Eddie Wilkinson was dangerous for United, and the home side had the ball in the net from a corner only to have the effort disallowed for an infringement seen by referee Cory Mills.

The game was settled in a 10-minute second half spell which saw both sides create chances and score a goal apiece.

United looked dangerous early in the second spell with Mika Rabuka sending a dangerous cross through the packed penalty box in the 53rd minute but no one could connect with it.

A minute later, the home side broke through when a long cross to the far post was met by Rabuka. His shot was parried by goalkeeper Oscar Mason and defender Liam Schofield tried to clear.

The ball rebounded off Rabuka and into the path of teammate Jordan Spain who belted the ball into the net from point-blank range.

Rovers players, led by Mason, contested the goal, appearing to claim the ball had come off Rabuka’s arm. After consulting his assistant, referee Mills awarded the goal.

United went close to scoring again soon after when Ben Lapslie and Noah Billingsley both got headers goalwards, but the first hit the bar, the follow-up was desperately cleared by a defender.

Napier City Rovers levelled just after the hour mark when a long clearance was flicked on by Leaford Allen, creating space for Jonathan McNamara.

He shimmied and turned, shooting for the far post, only for the ball to deflect into the net off the knee of Lapslie.

Christchurch had their chance to win the game when awarded a penalty but Wilkinson’s spot kick was saved by Mason.

Birkenhead beat Miramar Rangers 4-2

Birkenhead United continued their winning start to the season with an entertaining 4-2 win against Miramar Rangers at David Farrington Park.

Midfielder Dane Schnell put Birkenhead ahead in the 12th minute.

Against the run of play, Rangers drew level as the first half went into stoppage time.

A free kick floated into the Birkenhead area led to Rangers striker Hamish Watson being dragged down by Schnell.

Watson slotted the penalty for his first goal of the season.

Birkenhead took a 2-1 lead after 54 minutes when the side played out from deep, and set up Alex Connor-McLean who did well to keep his shot down, as he swivelled to face the goal.

The home side levelled in the 75th minute when a corner was met at the near post by Josh Rogerson whose diving header steered the ball down and into the net.

Birkenhead … four goals from their trip to Wellington.

With 10 minutes to go, Birkenhead took the lead for the third time when a long shot was not cleanly taken by the Rangers ‘keeper and it was met by Luke Jorgenson who tapped it into the net unmarked.

Birkenhead put the result beyond doubt, scoring their fourth goal in added time.

Substitute Curtis Hughes broke down the right and crossed for Schnell to meet the ball a metre out, smashing the ball home.

Navy Blues get second win with stop-start performance

Auckland City took their time to find their rhythm but finished strongly to beat Cashmere Technical at Kiwitea Street.

The Navy Blues delivered a nondescript performance in the first half but showed their class in second-half spurts, hinting that they are not far from finding their best form.

The sides played out a fairly tame first half with City dominating possession and Technical willing to soak up pressure and look to break out.

City’s Emiliano Tade had the best chance of the half, blasting over the bar with just the ‘keeper to beat.

Technical ‘keeper Danny Knight kept the game scoreless, turning a Tade shot round the post.

The game opened up after the Navy Blues took the lead with a well-worked goal in the 54th minute.

Captain Cam Howieson struck a beautifully-weighted pass across the face of the Technical goal for striker Ryan de Vries to meet at the far post, turning it into the net.

The pace of the game stepped up and City had several opportunities to increase their lead with well-worked moves that had no final finish.

In the 77th minute, City looked as though they would be punished for wasting their chances when Technical were awarded a penalty after City ‘keeper Conor Tracey brought down an advancing Tech player.

Tracey redeemed himself when he saved the penalty from Alex Ballard, diving full length to keep it out.

That shook the home side into action and they doubled their lead a couple of minutes later, when Adam Mitchell powered home a header from a corner.

Adam Mitchell heads his side’s second goal from a corner.

In the 83rd minute, another good move led to a header that rebounded off the Technical bar.

City made sure they took few risks late in the game, managing down the clock and securing their second win from as many games.

They sit second on the table, behind Birkenhead United on goal difference.


Games played on Saturday October 8, 2022

Christchurch United 1 (Jordan Spain 55′)
Napier City Rovers 1 (Jonathan McNamara 61′)

Miramar Rangers 2 (Hamish Watson 45+3′ pen, Josh Rogerson 74′)
Birkenhead United 4 (Dane Schnell 12′, 90+1′, Alex Connor-McClean 54′, Luke Jorgenson 81′)

Auckland City 2 (Ryan de Vries 54′, Adam Mitchell 80′)
Cashmere Technical 0



Games to be played on Sunday October 9, 2022

Click here for our preview >>>>

Wellington Phoenix v Auckland United
Sky Stadium, Wellington, 12pm

Melville United v Wellington Olympic
Gower Park, Hamilton, 2pm

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