Upsets on the cards as sides scramble to clear Northern League’s bottom half

posted in: News, Northern League

By Jonno Ross

Auckland City and Eastern Suburbs go into Round 6 as the only unbeaten sides in the Northern League.

Both are favoured to win with fixtures against bottom-four sides.

This weekend’s fixture schedule creates the opportunity for a few upsets as sides scramble to clear the bottom half of the table.

Game of the week

Mid-table sides Birkenhead United and West Coast Rangers have much at stake when they meet at Glenfield’s McFetridge Park.

Birkenhead were last year’s runners-up with only four losses in the Northern League. If they lose to Rangers, they’ll have matched that number of defeats in only six rounds of competition.

Promoted Rangers are finding their feet at this level, with inconsistent results.

They were put to the sword 5-1 by Manurewa, the other side promoted last year, and then they pulled off a creditable 1-1 draw with champions Auckland City.

Birkenhead will improve as the season goes on, no doubt, but their slow start could prove costly in the race for National League qualification spots. They’ve had no problem scoring goals but need to shore up a leaky defence.

As for Chad Coombes’ Rangers? It depends which version of his side turns up — the one capable of matching Auckland City would certainly cause problems for Birkenhead.

A draw helps neither side in their efforts to catch the leading pack. The winner of this match can get their season back on track; the loser will be left in no-man’s land.

Player to watch

Experienced Mexican shot-stopper Fernando Orduna (33) is a class act, despite the fact he’s been at the back of the league’s leakiest defence.

Manukau have conceded 16 goals already but it would have been worse if Orduna wasn’t between the posts.

He’s been around the Auckland scene with stints at Ranui Swanson, Manurewa and Mount Albert Ponsonby, and he’s returned to Manukau United for a second spell.

On Saturday, he goes against another former club in Eastern Suburbs and he’ll have plenty to do.

Bold prediction

The easy part is predicting — the tough part is being bold. So here goes …

I’m tipping bottom-of-the-table Takapuna to cause the upset of the day, with a 1-0 scrappy win at third-placed Manurewa.

Last week I predicted a 2-0 win for Manukau to beat Melville United. Instead, the Waikato side won 1-0.


Games to be played on Saturday April 22, 2023

Auckland City v Melville United
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 3pm

Birkenhead United v West Coast Rangers
McFetridge Park, Glenfield, 3pm

READ MORE: Read Birkenhead United’s match programme for West Coast Rangers fixture >>>>

Manurewa v Takapuna
War Memorial Park, Manurewa, 3pm

Manukau United v Eastern Suburbs
Mangere Centre Park, Mangere, 3pm

Western Springs v Hamilton Wanderers
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 3pm

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


Jonno Ross

Friends of Football writer Jonno Ross is a media writer for the NZ Football Foundation. A former New Zealand U-20 goalkeeper, he is the team manager for Mount Albert Ponsonby. He supports the All Whites, the Football Ferns, the Wellington Phoenix and Arsenal.

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