By Jack Sharp
The newly-formed Lotto NRFL Northern Conference faces disruption after the late addition of Central United, making it a nine-team competition.
After a hearing before the Sports Tribunal, Central have overturned a decision by Northern Region Football that prevented them from taking their place in the competition.
READ MORE: Tribunal rules Central United can take its place in Lotto NRFL Northern Conference >>>>
The Conference has already played two rounds of competition and Central are expected to be added to the fixture schedule from mid-April.
In the meantime, four games will go ahead over Easter.
Game of the week
Northland and Waitemata have had lousy starts to the season, and are winless.
They play each other at Whangarei’s Trigg Arena on Saturday afternoon, giving both the chance to get clear of the competition’s lower reaches.
Both sides have scored only once this year; why tip this as the weekend’s best game?
Nothing inspires competitive football more than teams eager to dig themselves out of trouble.
For a game so early in the schedule, this game has ‘must-win’ all over it.
Player to watch
Goalkeeper David Koloamatangi was ever-present last season when West Auckland had the best defensive record in the Lotto NRFL Second Division, conceding only 22 goals.
The side missed promotion by the barest of margins but signs are that Koloamatangi and his fellow defenders are going to be tight at the back again.
They are yet to concede a goal in 2023, and there’s every chance Koloamatangi will claim his third clean sheet at Pukekohe on Saturday.
High-scoring draw between Bucklands Beach and Beachlands Maraetai — 3-3, in fact.
Last week, I tipped a comfortable win for Bucklands Beach against Waitemata. They drew 1-1.
Game to be played on Friday April 7, 2023
Albany United v Oratia United
Rosedale Park, Albany, 3pm
Games to be played on Saturday April 8, 2023
Franklin United v West Auckland
Bledisloe Park, Pukekhoe, 3pm
Bucklands Beach v Beachlands Maraetai
MacLeans College, Bucklands Beach, 3pm
Northland v Waitemata
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm
Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football.