Central United get to make first appearance in Lotto NRFL Northern Conference

By Jack Sharp

A revised draw for the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference will see the first appearance of promoted club Central United this weekend.

Central won their place in the league after successfully overturning a Northern Region Football decision to block their promotion on the basis of their Memorandum of Understanding with Northern League club Auckland City.

READ MORE: Tribunal rules Central United can take its place in Lotto NRFL Northern Conference >>>>

Central travel to Oratia United for their opening game, facing the club that was relegated last season but was given a second chance when Central’s promotion was denied.

As the competition now has nine clubs, Bucklands Beach becomes the first to get a bye.

Game of the week

Nothing beats a local derby for that extra bit of tension between two sides.

It will be no different on Saturday when Waitemata make the 6km trip to Brains Park for their clash with West Auckland.

Last year, they did not meet as Waitemata were in the Lotto NRFL first division, while West Auckland were challenging to win promotion from the second division.

Waitemata were relegated; West Auckland missed promotion by a slender margin; now, they are in the new-look Northern Conference.

West Auckland have started the better with a couple of wins, and having conceded only one goal.

Waitemata have yet to win a game.

In a derby, form is likely to count for little. Game on.

Player to watch

Striker Mark Withers (32) left Oratia United last season to play for ambitious Ngaruawahia United as they pulled together a squad capable of winning promotion to this year’s Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship.

Withers helped the Waikato side make the jump, but he’s returned to the Tia for the 2023 season.

He’s played a couple of games so far but hasn’t yet found his goalscoring touch.

This weekend, Oratia host competition newcomers Central United.

Bold prediction

Northland are taking a while to settle into this season and are yet to win a game.

But on the form of recent years, they are always well organised, and win their share of matches.

I’m picking their trip to Beachlands Maraetai — the longest road trip of their season — will yield a result in their favour.

How about a 1-0 win to the Northlanders?

Last week, I tipped a 3-3 draw between Bucklands Beach and Beachlands Maraetai. It ended in a 3-1 win to Bucklands Beach.

Games to be played on Saturday April 15, 2023

Oratia United v Central United
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

Franklin United v Albany United
Bledisloe Park, Pukekohe, 3pm

Beachlands Maraetai v Northland
Te Puru Park, Beachlands, 3pm

West Auckland v Waitemata
Brains Park, Kelston, 3pm

Bucklands Beach — Bye


Jack Sharp

Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football.

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