Form reversals making it tough to find winners in Lotto NRFL Northern Conference

By Jack Sharp

Form is all over the place in the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference with teams capable of being on the right — and wrong — end of form reversals.

It wouldn’t surprise if this lack of consistency continues, and maybe, the eventual title winners will be the side that finds how to dodge the peaks and troughs of performance.

This weekend will provide more clues …

Game of the week

Central United turned things around last weekend to beat West Auckland 3-0, a vast improvement on their 8-2 Chatham Cup thrashing at the hands of Waitemata.

So, which version of Central United will turn up this weekend, when the early competition leaders face unbeaten Franklin United?

Prior to Central’s two wins in the Conference, they also thrashed Ranui-Swanson 9-1 in a League One now voided in the decision to promote Central.

Luke Pank registered a hat-trick in that non-game; he scored in the cup against Waitemata, and he was on the scoresheet again in the win against West Auckland. He’ll play a part, no doubt, in the outcome at Pukekohe’s Bledisloe Park.

Franklin United have brought together a solid squad for this campaign, retaining key players and bringing in a few new faces.

Expect Franklin to be hard to roll in any game this season, and a win against Central will take them to the top of the table, regardless of other results.

Player to watch

Forward Mark Withers is back at Oratia United where he was a key player until he joined Ngaruawahia United for last season’s promotion campaign.

Withers (32) flirted with joining Takapuna early this season but has settled back at the Tia, and he wore the captain’s armband when scoring twice in the side’s 5-1 win at Northland last weekend.

If he and Oratia can hold their form, they’ll be a handful for Beachlands Maraetai on Saturday.

Bold prediction

West Auckland were on the wrong end of a 3-0 loss to Central last weekend, while Northland were routed 5-1 by Oratia United at Trigg Arena.

Both sides will lick their wounds and look to fix their defences ahead of their meeting at Brains Park on Saturday.

I’m picking both will be cautious and we’re looking at a low-scoring match as a result.

My pick’s a 1-1 draw.

Last week, I tipped a 1-1 draw between Albany United and Bucklands Beach. I could not have been more wrong. Bucklands Beach strolled to a 5-0 win. 

One more thing …

Congratulations to Waitemata player/coach Hamish Mackay who made his 150th first-team appearance last weekend.


Games to be played on Saturday May 6, 2023

Bucklands Beach v Waitemata
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Franklin United v Central United
Bledisloe Park, Pukekhoe, 3pm

Oratia United v Beachlands Maraetai
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

West Auckland v Northland
Brains Park, Kelston, 3pm

Albany United — 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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