Lead likely to change again in Lotto NRFL Men’s Northern Conference

By Jack Sharp

Depending on results, any of three teams could be atop the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference table by Saturday night.

Leaders Bucklands Beach have no game but could remain in top spot if their challengers have bad weekends.

Beachlands Maraetai and Oratia United can assume the lead with wins.

Franklin United remain the only unbeaten side in the competition but four draws have been costly, dropping them to fourth on the table. They won’t find a win easy at improving Albany United’s Rosedale Park.

Game of the week

With leaders Bucklands Beach getting a bye, second-placed Beachlands Maraetai get the chance to move into top slot if they win well at Northland’s Tikipunga Park (game transferred from Trigg Arena).

The league table suggests Beachlands Maraetai should win, but the recent form of both teams suggests this match could go either way.

Over the past month or so, Beachlands Maraetai have struggled to get past lowly teams such as Albany United and West Auckland (they beat both by a single-goal margin), and they lost at home to Waitemata.

They lost last week to leaders Bucklands Beach, by 4-2, and they shared a 5-5 draw with Franklin United before that.

Their only emphatic win was a 4-1 win against Central United.

Northland, in recent weeks, have been slowly showing improvement and it paid off with their 3-0 win at Central.

Home advantage and momentum works in Northland’s favour and this could be a ding dong affair, especially if Northland side can create chances.

Player to watch

Albany United’s Jack Beguely has been on fire in recent weeks, scoring six goals in his last three appearances for the side that’s battling to clear the drop zone.

He missed his side’s 0-0 draw with Northland but in the games around that fixture, he found the net in the 6-4 Chatham Cup loss at Ngaruawahia, got a double in the 4-3 loss at Oratia and then landed a hat-trick last weekend in the 6-4 win against West Auckland.

It’ll be interesting to see how Beguely (34) fares at home this weekend when Albany host unbeaten Franklin United, a side prone to draws.

Bold prediction

Oratia United have been shuffling up the league table and I’m expecting them to beat Central United this weekend, while it would not surprise if Beachlands Maraetai dropped points at Northland.

So my bold prediction is that Oratia will be the league leaders by Saturday night, declaring themselves as genuine title contenders.

Last week I tipped Northland to win by a three-goal margin against Central United. They won 3-0.


Games to be played on Saturday July 1, 2023

Northland v Beachlands Maraetai 

Tikipunga Park, Tikipunga, 3pm

*Transferred from Trigg Arena, Whangarei

Central United v Oratia United
Croatian Cultural Club, Te Atatu South, 3pm

Waitemata v West Auckland 
McLeod Park, Te Atatu South, 3pm

Albany United v Franklin United
Rosedale Park, Albany, 3pm

Bucklands Beach — 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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