By Jack Sharp
Chatham Cup heroics may have recharged the batteries for teams in the Lotto NRFL Southern Conference.
Otumoetai and Te Awamutu, both at the bottom end of the Conference table, landed confidence-building wins in last weekend’s cup first round.
Otumoetai beat Aucklanders Uni-Mount Bohemian 4-2, while Te Awamutu upset Taupo 4-3, scoring three goals in the last 10 minutes.
Otumoetai have been rewarded with a home draw against Northern League side Melville United while Te Awamutu head to Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship side Onehunga Mangere United.
Another team to benefit from the cup was league leader Waikato Unicol who recovered from their last-round league loss to Cambridge to thrash Papatoetoe 5-1 away, with four second-half goals and three from their subs’ bench.
Game of the week
Otumoetai’s game against Taupo is important for both clubs.
Can Otumoetai carry forward their cup form (see above) and climb away from the bottom of the table?
Or can Taupo show their cup loss was an aberration and gain ground on leaders Waikato Unicol and Cambridge?
In the cup, Taupo were missing top scorer Joe O’Donoghue, scorer of 10 goals in six league rounds. Clearly, if he’s back in the line-up, Otumoetai’s chances will depend on their ability to constrain him.
Momentum is important in football and the home side are well-poised to build on their cup success.
Player to watch
Chaz Picton grabbed a double for Otumoetai in the cup, to go with the three goals he’s scored in league games.
Picton (24) might be the goalscorer the side needs to dig its way out of trouble.
Papamoa have lost three games on the bounce, including their Chatham Cup loss to Northern United, and coughed up three goals in each match.
It doesn’t bode well for meeting Waikato Unicol, the competition’s top goalscorers, who smashed five last week in the cup.
It would be a surprise if Unicol blew this but what’s apparent is their ability to finish teams off with strong finishes.
Whatever the final score, I’m picking Unicol will put Papamoa to the sword in the last 20 minutes.
Games to be played on Saturday May 20, 2023
Claudelands Rovers v Te Awamutu
Galloway Park, Hamilton, 3pm
Ngongotaha Lakes v Cambridge
Tamarahi Reserve, Ngongotaha, 3pm
Otumoetai v Taupo
Fergusson Park, Otumoetai, 3pm
Waikato Unicol v Papamoa
Jansen Park, Hamiton, 3pm
Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football.