Long weekend serves up tasty fixtures for Northern League followers

posted in: News, Northern League

By Jonno Ross

With a full round of Northern League fixtures and a round of Chatham Cup ties, spectators are in for a King’s Birthday Weekend treat.

The action starts on Friday night when Western Springs face Auckland City, and Saturday sees a schedule of match-ups all capable of upsets and tight games.

Takapuna got off the mark (and the bottom of the table) last weekend; they’ll find it more difficult against Auckland United on Saturday.

Manukau United and Bay Olympic meet in a game that could have implications at the end of the season, when relegation is decided.

Eastern Suburbs will seek to extend their unbeaten streak to 12 games, while the league’s midtable sides all get their chances to earn points.

With half the season gone, the scramble for top four places continues as clubs chase the prize of a spot in this year’s Men’s National League.

READ MORE: Half-term report: Who our writers tip to make this year’s Men’s National League >>>>

Game of the week

Friday night’s floodlit match at Seddon Fields sees Western Springs host newly-crowned OFC Champions League winners Auckland City.

The game will be live-streamed by NZ Football’s YouTube channel:

Springs missed their chance last weekend to overhaul Auckland United with a loss to Melville United.

Inconsistency has been costly for Western Springs over the last five weeks — they have managed to pick up only four points from an available 15.

Springs are fortunate the teams below them have been equally erratic with their form, and they still sit in 5th place, just two points off a National League qualifying position.

They need to find the form from April, which saw them on a four-game winning streak.

It won’t be easy this week, but, perhaps, it could be the best time to play the 2022 champions, who return home from their commitments in Vanuatu (congratulations, by the way!).

The Navy Blues played four OFC games in the space of 13 days (with the last two games going to extra time).

The players will be carrying a few bruises, sore muscles and feeling the aftereffects of an adrenaline-pumping tournament.

Now, the City players need to play catch-up with three games in hand, and they can’t afford to take Springs lightly.

In Vanuatu, Ryan De Vries was used as an impact player to great effect; it’ll be interesting whether he starts, comes off the bench or even gets a rest on Friday.

Liam Gillion, Cam Howieson and Angus Kilkolly delivered six goals between them while on OFC duty, so the side has plenty of options.

What a great way to start the long weekend — this should be a cracking game.

Eastern Suburbs striker Jake Mechell … in top form this season. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Player to watch

Jake Mechell scored the only goal of the game for Eastern Suburbs last weekend to beat Auckland United with a cracking strike.

That made it six from the last seven games for Mechell (24), making him one of the league’s form strikers.

Since joining the Lilywhites from Birkenhead United four seasons ago, he’s made himself a first-team regular at Suburbs.

Bold prediction

I predict Birkenhead United will start to turn their season around this weekend by handing Manurewa their first home loss of the season.

Birkenhead will know that the three points are vital this weekend, or their chances of a top four position might start slipping away.

I’ll say a 1-0 win to the away side.

Last week I predicted Eastern Suburbs would get a 2-1 win over Auckland United. I got the winner right, but not the scoreline. Suburbs won 1-0


Game to be played on Friday June 2, 2023

Western Springs v Auckland City
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 7.30pm

Games to be played on Saturday May 27, 2023

Manukau United v Bay Olympic
Mangere Centre Park, Mangere, 3pm

Manurewa v Birkenhead United
Manurewa War Memorial Park, Manurewa, 3pm

Hamilton Wanderers v West Coast Rangers
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, 3pm

Takapuna v Auckland United
Taharoto Park, Takapuna, 3pm

Eastern Suburbs v Melville United
Madills Farm, St Heliers, 3pm

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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