Northern Conference sides ready to resume after false start to season

By Jack Sharp

So far, the start-stop-start nature of the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference has made it difficult to figure out who’ll be pushing for promotion to next year’s men’s Championship.

Starting on March 25, the new-style competition began with Central United excluded and Oratia United reprieved after last season’s relegation from Lotto NRFL Division Two.

The league stopped — or, at least, paused — for off-field decision-makers to rule Central should be included and it would become a nine-team league.

It started again, with Central beating Oratia 4-3, on April 15.

READ MORE: NRF to restart Northern Conference and League One ‘to safeguard integrity’ >>>>

Northern Region Football, after consulting clubs, ruled the April 15 round should be regarded as Round 1 of a new competition, erasing the results thus far.

Last weekend’s Chatham Cup preliminary round — in which some sides had byes — interrupted the Conference yet another week.

So, as the season comes to the end of April, only one round has officially been played (see the results down the page).

The league table shows Bucklands Beach has yet to play a game, courtesy of a first-round bye.

Game of the week

Central United’s start to the season has been frantic, on and off the pitch, and they’ll host West Auckland in a game predicted to be full of goals.

Central won their first game 4-3 against Oratia United but then crashed 8-2 to league rivals Waitemata in Tuesday’s Chatham Cup tie.

West Auckland had begun their campaign with much promise, hammering local rivals Oratia 4-0 in late March in a game that no longer counts towards the title (and with it, Haylen West loses the opening day hat-trick he scored).

They tripped up a week later, losing 1-0 to Franklin United (a result now voided).

West Auckland then won 6-3 against Waitemata (a result included in the revised competition).

Everything points to a free-flowing game, with goals aplenty.

Player to watch

Shane Tanner (31) is into his seventh season with Waitemata and he appears to be finding form at the right time.

He didn’t score in any of the voided games but opened his account two weeks ago in the 6-3 loss to West Auckland.

On ANZAC Day, he blasted a 15-minute hat-trick in Waitemata’s 8-2 routing of Central United, scoring in the 36th (pen), 48th and 51st minutes.

He faces Franklin United on Saturday, a side that’s already shown it’s not going to easily concede goals this year.

Bold prediction

Albany United had two wins and a draw in the three matches now declared void. The only result that counts towards the league is their 2-0 loss at Franklin United.

Albany will look to put things right with a home match against Bucklands Beach.

However, Bucklands Beach also had two wins and a draw in the voided games. And they also cruised to an 8-0 Chatham Cup win against Warkworth.

I’m tipping a close encounter between two sides capable of being at the top end of the table come September.

How about a 1-1 draw?


Games to be played on Saturday April 29, 2023

Albany United v Bucklands Beach
Rosedale Park, Albany, 3pm

Central United v West Auckland
Seymour Park, Royal Oak, 3pm

Northland v Oratia United
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm

Waitemata v Franklin United
McLeod Park, Te Atatu South, 3pm

Beachlands Maraetai — Bye



The following is the only round played that will be included in the results going forward:

Games played on Saturday April 15, 2023

Oratia United 3 (Andy Kapteyn 54′, 61′, Jason Beeston 58′)
Central United 4 (Sam Lloyd 11′, own goal 34′, Matthew Metzger 45′, James Peak 90′)

Franklin United 2 (Tim Richardson 44′, Dillon Lazarus 63′)
Albany United 0

Beachlands Maraetai 4 (Alexander Thurbon 38′, 69′, Aaron Parry 45′, 63′)
Northland 0

West Auckland 6 (Matthew Hearn 10′, 19′, Jordan Hearn 15′, 62′, own goal 36′, Haylen West 74′)
Waitemata 3 (Shane Tanner 65′, Lukas Webster 67′, 90+4′)

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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