Northern Conference sides look to carry cup-winning form into league fixtures

By Jack Sharp

Not one of the top four sides managed a win in the last round of the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference, an indication that this is turning into a league where any team can beat any other.

In the last round, only one game had a winning margin of more than one goal — and that was an upset in which Waitemata beat Beachlands Maraetai 3-1 to register their first win of the season.

For Beachlands Maraetai, it was their first loss.

The results this weekend will provide a clue as to whether we can expect form reversals from now on, or whether the King’s Birthday outcomes were a blip.

READ MORE: Results and scorers from King’s Birthday Weekend >>>>

Game of the week

Northland and Albany United meet in a bottom-of-the-table clash that could have a major bearing on which side drops out of the competition at season’s end.

The sides meet with entirely contrasting lead-ups to this match at Whangarei’s Trigg Arena.

Northland had King’s Birthday Weekend off, having been eliminated from the Chatham Cup in the first round and having a bye in the Conference.

Albany played two games over the long weekend; a useful 1-1 draw on Saturday with midtable Central United and then a gut-busting Chatham Cup tie on Monday, when they lost 6-4 at Ngaruawahia United in extra time.

Which team’s preparation will turn out to be the best?

Fresh legs for Northland, or the confidence-boost for Albany of finding their scoring touch (at last) against a team performing well in a higher division?

It could work either way but there’s plenty at stake in Saturday’s match, with both teams needing three points to climb clear of the relegation trapdoor.

Player to watch

West Auckland seem to have finally found something of the form that almost saw them win promotion to the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship last season.

In the Conference last weekend, they drew 2-2 with leaders Franklin United, with Jordan Hearn (26) scoring both goals.

He backed up for Monday’s Chatham Cup upset win against Championship side Metro, playing a full 90 minutes.

Hearn is the Conference’s second-leading goalscorer, with five games from his six outings, and has been an ever-present so far.

This weekend, Hearn and West Auckland head to Bucklands Beach.

Bold prediction

Franklin United’s game against Beachlands Maraetai should be a decent game, with the home side defending their unbeaten start to the season.

Both have strong defences and this could turn into a game where one mistake or a single moment of creativity could decide the game.

I’m picking Franklin will get the win, but it’ll be tight. Say, 1-0.

Last week, I predicted Waitemata were ready to break through for their first win, against unbeaten Beachlands Maraetai. Waitemata won 3-1.

… and one more thing

Three Northern Conference teams have made it through to the last 32 of the Chatham Cup, though West Auckland needed a rule breach by Papakura City for them to get through the first round.

All three have drawn away from home in the cup, and all will be punching above their weight.

Bucklands Beach travel to cup holders and OFC champions Auckland City, Franklin head to Northern League side Birkenhead United and West Auckland will face Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship side Fencibles United.

READ MORE: Full draw for Round 3 of Chatham Cup >>>>


Games to be played on Saturday June 10, 2023

Bucklands Beach v West Auckland
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Franklin United v Beachlands Maraetai
Drury Sports Complex, Drury, 3pm

Northland v Albany United
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm

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

Oratia 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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