West Coast Rangers get chance to emerge from Northern League pack

posted in: News, Northern League

By Jonno Ross

Newcomers West Coast Rangers are quickly showing the rest of the competition they deserve to be in the league and have a chance this week to push for a top-four spot.

Sure, they are in the bottom half of the table but it’s so congested, a win or two can quickly shuffle the pack who are chasing pacesetters Auckland City and Eastern Suburbs.

City and Suburbs have seemingly straightforward fixtures this weekend, when they come up against the bottom two sides, Takapuna and Bay Olympic.

Game of the week

West Coast Rangers host Auckland United at Fred Taylor Park on Saturday.

Rangers have not by any means been pushovers this season, unlike some promoted sides in the past.

Some impressive results from Chad Coombes’ men have seen them with 10 points on the board, only two points off a top-four National League qualifying position.

Best result thus far was the 1-1 draw with the powerhouse that is Auckland City — no easy feat, and that would have been a savoured moment for coach Coombes, achieved against his former club.

Last week, they grabbed a 1-0 win at Western Springs.

Auckland United were involved in a 3-3 thriller last week against Birkenhead United, but they will be kicking themselves after dropping points that could have seen them only a point behind the pacemaking Auckland City and Eastern Suburbs.

United conceded twice in the opening eight minutes last week, so will need to be alert from the start.

This West Coast team are difficult to break down, but United are capable of wearing them down if they’re on their game from the get-go.

A win would keep United third on the ladder;  a loss could see them drop to 5th.

Player to watch

Last week, Hamilton Wanderers’ Derek Tieku was my player to watch, and he came through with a hat trick against Manurewa. We need to keep an eye out for him again this week as he may enjoy his outing against the league’s leakiest defence, Manukau United.

Another to watch for is Byron Heath (23) from Birkenhead United.

He’s been with some quality sides down south — Green Island, Wellington Phoenix, Lower Hutt City, Canterbury United, Nomads United and Cashmere Technical — before heading to Auckland this year.

Last week, he scored twice in the space of three minutes against Auckland United. The previous time he scored, he also got a double.

Perhaps, Heath best delivers goals in pairs … we’ll find out, maybe, when United play Melville United under the Gower Park lights in Hamilton (5.30pm kick-off).

Bold prediction

I predict Western Springs to bounce back from last week’s loss to West Coast Rangers, and win against Manurewa on Friday night.

Manurewa are without Nico Bobadilla, James Hoyt, and skipper Agustin Contratti, due to suspension, and striker Monty Patterson has been missing since tweaking a hamstring three weeks ago.

Without their key players, Manurewa will likely struggle.

I predict a 2-0 win to the home side.

Last week I predicted Takapuna to beat Manukau 2-1. I was so close! Manukau equalized in the 95th minute to make it 2-2.


Game to be played on Friday May 5, 2023

Western Springs v Manurewa
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 7.30pm

Games to be played on Saturday May 6, 2023

Auckland City v Takapuna
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 3pm

Manukau United v Hamilton Wanderers
Mangere Centre Park, Mangere, 3pm

West Coast Rangers v Auckland United
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, 3pm

Melville United v Birkenhead United
Gower Park, Hamilton, 5.30pm

Bay Olympic v Eastern Suburbs
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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