Double-round weekend will put pressure on Northern League sides

By Jack Sharp

Two games in four days will put the heat on teams in the Northern League over Easter.

With little time to recover, the depth of squads and ability to use their subs’ benches could prove vital for coaches as the competition starts to separate the stormers from the strugglers.

It’s hard not to imagine an Easter Monday league table that doesn’t have champions Auckland City in their usual spot on top, though last year’s challengers Birkenhead United could give them a shake on Good Friday.

Birkenhead romped to a 7-0 win against Manukau United last weekend, and if they can catch City on an off day … well, anything’s possible.

Game of the week

Waikato derbies between Hamilton Wanderers and Melville United rarely disappoint.

They often produce goals aplenty, and don’t be surprised if a few players end up in the referee’s match report.

Both sides need a goal or three to fire up their seasons — they’ve only scored two goals between them, so far.

Wanderers’ captain Derek Tieku, who won last season’s Golden Boot, will pose his usual threat but Melville need someone to step up and replace U-20 international Oliver Colloty who headed overseas at the end of last season.

Player to watch

Captain Ross Haviland has led Auckland United to a smooth start to the season, with 1-0 wins against Takapuna and Hamilton Wanderers.

He and his United side will have their work cut out to make it three clean sheets as they face in-form Manurewa.

But if they can manage it, Haviland could celebrate his 31st birthday on Easter Monday with another clean sheet as they come up against misfiring Manukau United.

Bold prediction

Western Springs and Takapuna have yet to score this season.

They meet on Monday at Seddon Fields.

Expect the handbrakes to come off — and both sides to score two or more goals.

Last week: I predicted a 1-1 draw between Western Springs and Eastern Suburbs. Not far off — the Lilywhites won 1-0.


Games to be played on Friday April 7, 2023

Auckland City v Birkenhead United
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 2pm

West Coast Rangers v Manukau United
Fred Taylor Park, Whenuapai, 3pm

Auckland United v Manurewa
Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill, 3pm

Melville United v Hamilton Wanderers
Gower Park, Hamilton, 3pm

Eastern Suburbs v Takapuna
Riverhills Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Bay Olympic v Western Springs
Olympic Park, New Lynn, 6pm

Games to be played on Monday April 10, 2023

Auckland City v West Coast Rangers
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 3pm

Hamilton Wanderers v Eastern Suburbs
Porrit Stadium, Hamilton, 3pm

Manurewa v Melville United
Manurewa War Memorial Park, Manurewa, 3pm

Western Springs v Takapuna
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 3pm

Manukau United v Auckland United
Mangere Centre Park, Mangere, 3pm

Bay Olympic v Birkenhead United
Olympic Park, New Lynn, 6pm


Jack Sharp

Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football. He’s filling in this week for our usual Northern League writer, Jonno Ross.

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