Waikato Unicol well-placed to maintain pole position in Southern Conference

By Jack Sharp

Waikato Unicol go into the weekend’s games holding all the cards — they lead the Lotto NRFL Southern Conference with a game in hand, and host bottom-placed Otumoetai.

It should mean Unicol can stay in top spot and watch their two nearest rivals, Cambridge and Taupo, tussle over the three points in their match.

Otumoetai, who have won only once in 14 outings, won’t be a cakewalk, though.

They made Cambridge work hard for a 3-2 win last weekend.

Game of the week

Cambridge get the chance to shake off Taupo this weekend, and turn the Southern Conference into a two-way battle with Waikato Unicol.

Third-placed Taupo would drop 10 points behind Cambridge if they lose at John Kerkhof Park, and it would be difficult if not impossible to make up the lost ground.

The game brings together the Southern Conference’s top two strikers in Cambridge’s Josh Clarkin and Taupo’s Joe O’Donoghue.

Clarkin has 20 goals in the Golden Boot race, one more than O’Donoghue.

There’s nothing like a title race to add spice to a match, and this game’s a definite watch for the Waikato neutrals who seek entertainment.

Player to watch

South Africa-born Mikhail Bredeveldt (33) has a decent club pedigree, having played for Birkenhead United, Miramar Rangers, Stop Out and Tauranga City before making the move to Papamoa this season.

The former National League player popped up with a couple goals last weekend in Papamoa’s 5-1 win against Ngongotaha Lakes.

Papamoa travel to Te Awamutu this weekend.

Bold prediction

Cambridge striker Josh Clarkin (22) is on fire, adding a hat-trick to his impressive tally in last weekend’s 3-2 win at Otumoetai.

He’s now scored 14 in his last five games, and has taken over the lead in the competition’s Golden Boot.

I’m tipping him to keep scoring, and to find the winner against Taupo on Saturday.

Last week I predicted the top three — Waikato Unicol, Cambridge and Taupo — would all win to keep the title race open. Unicol and Cambridge got the points but Taupo succumbed to a goalless draw with Te Awamutu.


Games to be played on Saturday August 5, 2023

Te Awamutu v Papamoa
The Stadium, Te Awamutu, 3pm

Cambridge v Taupo
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge, 3pm

Waikato Unicol v Otumoetai
Jansen Park, Hamilton, 3pm

Ngongotaha Lakes v Claudelands Rovers
Tamarahi Reserve, Ngongotaha, 3pm

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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