Lights debacle forces top-of-the-table Northern Conference clash to be replayed

By Jack Sharp

The top-of-the-table match between Franklin United and Bucklands Beach has been ruled as an abandoned fixture after floodlights at Pukekohe’s Bledisloe Park turned off 67 minutes into Wednesday’s match.

Northern Region Football have confirmed the Lotto NRFL Men’s Northern Conference match will be rescheduled.

The game was stopped in the 68th minute, with the score 2-1 to Bucklands Beach.

The floodlights at Pukekhoe’s Bledisloe Park automatically turned off at 9.30pm, despite host club Franklin United saying they asked Auckland Council to keep the lights on till 10pm.

The match was initially recorded in COMET, NZ Football’s database, as a 2-0 win to Bucklands Beach, giving them a three-point lead over nearest rivals Franklin United, and with a game in hand.

The match centre details showed two goals by Joshua Smith, in the 44th and 65th minutes, had put paid to Franklin United’s 12-match unbeaten run.

However, Franklin’s Tim Richardson scored from the penalty spot in the 51st minute.

On Thursday, NRF ruled the game would be replayed.

If the result had stood, it would have ended Franklin’s 12-match unbeaten streak.

Here’s how the weekend’s fixtures shape up:

Game of the week

With their midweek result voided, Franklin United’s next game is against an improving Waitemata who have eased into third place on the table.

After a faltering start to the season, Waitemata have come good, with three wins and a draw in July. Their only blemish was a 1-0 loss to leaders Bucklands Beach.

Player to watch

The decision to wipe Wednesday’s outcome means Joshua Smith’s two goals against Franklin are also dropped from the competition’s goalscorers’ table.

The double would have given him seven for the year, second only to the club’s leading goalscorer, Sander Waterland, who has found the net 12 times.

Smith (26) has been loyal to Bucklands Beach in his senior career, and he and his teammates are enjoying a top season at the top of the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship.

He gets the chance to frank his form at home to Albany United this weekend.

Bold prediction

Northland and West Auckland are locked together at the bottom of the table, with only a single goal separating them.

They both play mid-table sides this weekend, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Northland and West Auckland both picked up points in their matches.

I’m picking West Auckland will be off the bottom of the table by Saturday night.

Last week I said the Waitemata/Albany United game would be close but I preferred Albany’s chances. The sides drew 2-2.


Games to be played on Saturday August 5, 2023

Oratia United v Northland
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

Bucklands Beach v Albany United
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Franklin United v Waitemata
Bledisloe Park, Pukekohe, 3pm

West Auckland v Central United
Brains Park, Kelston, 3pm

Beachlands Maraetai — 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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