Lotto NRFL Championship leaders could be tested with away games on Monday

By Jack Sharp

League leaders East Coast Bays and Mount Albert Ponsonby are both on the road on Easter Monday, with the chance to extend their 100% winning starts to the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship.

Both will need to be careful not to slip up, especially playing two games in four days.

Bays should get a good workout against Metro while MAP will share the Hauraki Gulf ferry with Easter Monday day trippers before facing Waiheke United.

READ MORE: Results and scorers from Lotto NRFL Championship games on Good Friday >>>>

Here’s the round four fixture list for Easter Monday:

Game of the week

Metro host high-flying East Coast Bays at Phylls St on Monday, and the game will help determine whether Bays should be considered favourites for promotion this year.

Bays have scored 10 goals in their three games so far, while Metro have conceded seven.

On paper, the visitors should have the upper hand.

But Metro are always tough to roll on their own ground, and if they can contain the Bays attack, they have enough firepower of their own to cause damage.

A key addition to the Metro squad this year is forward Gilberto Souza (25) who was a prolific scorer for Onehunga Mangere United at this level till his summer move to Phyllis Street.

Player to watch

Nicolas Vanina (30) is in his fifth season for Waiheke United and though the side struggled last year when they were relegated from the Northern League, the Argentinian always looked dangerous.

At Championship level, he could become one of the division’s top scorers.

On Good Friday, he earned Waiheke United a point with his hat-trick in their 3-3 draw at Metro.

He’ll find it more difficult to score against unbeaten Mount Albert Ponsonby — who have conceded only one goal this season — but he’s the main threat, and the player to watch.

Bold prediction

Going into Easter, I tipped Hibiscus Coast to remain unbeaten by the time the long weekend was completed.

The Coasters more than justified my confidence with a 4-0 win against Northern Rovers on Good Friday, and I’m picking another easy win on Monday. They were already leading 3-0 before Rovers’ Tom Webb was sent off, reducing his side to 10 players for the last 22 minutes.

Coast are at home on Monday to Onehunga Mangere United, winless after three games and who shipped four goals in their defeat to Mount Albert Ponsonby on Friday.

United are not helped by the suspension of Usaamah Hakim, sent off against MAP.

This looks like a one-sided game … I’m tipping another four-goal margin in Hibiscus Coast’s favour.


Games to be played on Monday April 10, 2023

Ellerslie v Tauranga City
Michaels Ave Reserve, Ellerslie, 3pm

READ MORE: Match programme >>>>

Metro v East Coast Bays
Phyllis St Reserve, Mt Albert, 3pm

Hibiscus Coast v Onehunga Mangere United
Stanmore Bay Park, Stanmore Bay, 3pm

Ngaruawahia United v Northern Rovers
Centennial Park, Ngaruawahia, 3pm

Fencibles United v North Shore United
Riverhills Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Waiheke United v Mt Albert Ponsonby
Onetangi Sports Complex, Waiheke Island, 3pm

READ MORE: Match programme >>>>


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 Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship writer, Jonno Ross.

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