Tough schedule could be rewarding as Tauranga City chase league leaders

By Jonno Ross

While the leading pair should continue their winning ways this weekend, fourth-placed Tauranga City get the chance to gain ground with two games in three days.

Tauranga host third-placed Ellerslie on Matariki and then travel to Auckland for a catch-up game against Mount Albert Ponsonby on Sunday.

Tauranga City face two games in three days but can make ground on the league leaders with a winning weekend. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.

Game of the week

Tauranga City will be itching to get out on the park this week, after weather conditions in the Bay of Plenty forced the referee to postpone yet another game for the lads from Links Ave.

City now have two games in hand over most of the teams in the league, but more importantly, have them in hand over the three teams above them in the league.

Sitting fourth on the ladder, if they win those games in hand, and have a strong second half of their season, Tauranga will be strong contenders for promotion and will be challenging to go up as league champions.

After finishing third in the league last season by an agonizingly close margin of three points, Tauranga know that maximum points from every game is vital. No time for dropped points will be the message ringing in their ears.

Ellerslie find themselves in the best league position they have been in for years. In their form, it’s no surprise to see them in third place.

They have lost only two of their last seven games, making them one of the in-form teams in the league.

Their success isn’t down to luck, either.

The Ponies have three talismen on whom they can rely. Rowan Corbett, Tawanda Marowa and Tom Durkin have 19 goals between them this season in league and cup, and there’s a frequent trend — when one doesn’t score, one of the other two will get themselves on the score sheet.

Ellerslie’s Alexei Davies-Campbell … ‘I think we can do really well.’ Photo: David Joseph / Phototek.

Back in Round 8 in early May, just before Ellerslie beat Mount Albert Ponsonby 4-1, Alexei Davies-Campbell had this to say about his team:

“This is by far the best squad we (Ellerslie) have had the whole time that I have been here, and I’ve been here since 2018. The depth of talent that we have is also the best we’ve had in my time here, and I think we can do really well this season.”

Those words are certainly coming to fruition for Davies-Campbell and Ellerslie, who by now, are dreaming of a top two finish, which would certainly be some feat, considering their battles in recent years.

Players to watch

Ngaruawahia’s Stjepan Kovacic extended his consecutive run of scoring last week against Hamilton Wanderers, making it 10 games in a row he’s found the net.

Over those 10 games, he’s bagged 17 goals, and will fancy himself again this week against a struggling Northern Rovers.

Colby Brennan … has found form in the league and cup. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.

Tauranga City’s Colby Brennan has found some form of late. With six goals in his last seven games in league and cup, we can expect him to cause trouble for the opposition’s defence in his side’s doubleheader this weekend.

Bold prediction

I predict Onehunga Mangere United will overtake Metro on the ladder with a 2-1 win over Hibiscus Coast, who have picked up three points from an available 18 in their last six games.

Last week, I predicted a 1-1 draw between Ellerslie and Hibiscus Coast. Ellerslie won 2-0


Games to be played on Friday July 14, 2023

Mount Albert Ponsonby v Waiheke United
Anderson Park, Mt Albert, 2.30pm

Tauranga City v Ellersiie
Links Ave, Mt Maunganui, 3pm

Games to be played on Saturday July 15, 2023

East Coast Bays v Metro
North Harbour Stadium, Albany, 3pm

Onehunga Mangere United v Hibiscus Coast
Mangere Domain, Mangere, 3pm

Northern Rovers v Ngaruawahia United
McFetridge Park, Glenfield, 3pm

North Shore United v Fencibles United
Allen Hill Stadium, Devonport, 3pm

Game to be played on Saturday July 15, 2023

Mount Albert Ponsonby v Tauranga City
Anderson Park, Mt Albert, 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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