By Jonno Ross
Promoted sides Manurewa and West Coast Rangers go head-to-head in this weekend’s round of Northern League fixtures.
The result will be a factor in Rewa’s ambitions to stay in touch with league leaders Eastern Suburbs and Auckland City.
It’s the first of three challenging fixtures for Manurewa, with games against Auckland United and Auckland City coming up next.
Meanwhile, Eastern Suburbs host Western Springs on Saturday, while defending champions Auckland City play struggling Bay Olympic under the Olympic Park floodlights on Saturday evening.
Game of the week
Manurewa and West Coast Rangers have certainly settled into the Northern League after winning promotion last year.
While Manurewa have already shown they’ll be among the contenders for a National League qualifying spot, Rangers have demonstrated they’re no pushovers and they are capable of beating anyone on their day.
The promoted pair meet on Saturday for the second time this season.
In their first encounter, Manurewa romped to a 5-1 win, and Rangers are unlikely to let that happen again.
They beat Bay Olympic last weekend, a result that gives them a buffer from the three clubs being dragged into a relegation fight.
Victory against Rewa could lift Rangers as high as sixth on the table.
Paul Marshall’s Manurewa side will be hurting with the manner in which they lost to improving Birkenhead United last weekend.
The game was all square at 1-1 when the referee started to check his watch. But goals in the 88th and 92nd minutes gave Birkenhead the win and closed the gap between the clubs to only three points.
This is the crucial stage of the season for Manurewa if they are to qualify for the National League.
Player to watch
Josh Redfearn is a talisman for Auckland United. When he plays well, the side plays well.
Redfearn (22) has been with United (and with founding club Onehunga Sports) for 10 years, and he shows leadership when it’s needed.
There’s no better example than last weekend when he scored a hat-trick in United’s 4-3 win against Takapuna, a feat that boosted his season’s goals to seven.
So far, he’s missed only one game in United’s 12 outings and he’s not had so much as a yellow card.
I think Auckland United’s game against Hamilton Wanderers will bring together two evenly-matched teams, and that will be reflected in the scoreline.
I predict a 2-2 draw at Keith Hay Park.
Last week, I tipped Birkenhead United to beat Manurewa 1-0. I was right about the result, but not the margin. Birkenhead won the game 3-1.
… and one more thing
Manukau United and Auckland City will play a rescheduled fixture at Mangere Centre Park next Wednesday (June 14), with a 7.30pm kick-off.
Manukau United’s game against Birkenhead United is postponed because Manukau need to head to Tauranga City for a Chatham Cup second round tie that could not be played last weekend due to an unplayable pitch.
Games to be played on Saturday June 10, 2023
Auckland United v Hamilton Wanderers
Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill, 3pm
Birkenhead United v Manukau United — POSTPONED
*Manukau United playing rescheduled Chatham Cup tie
Eastern Suburbs v Western Springs
Madills Farm, St Heliers, 3pm
Melville United v Takapuna
Gower Park, Hamilton, 3pm
West Coast Rangers v Manurewa
Huapai Domain, Kumeu, 3pm
Bay Olympic v Auckland City
Olympic Park, New Lynn, 6pm
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