Everything’s riding on this weekend’s games in Lotto NRFL Northern Conference

By Jack Sharp

Every game has something riding on it in this weekend’s round of fixtures for the Lotto NRFL Men’s Northern Conference.

The four games will either help decide the title or which clubs are at risk of relegation.

The only club that won’t influence the outcome at either end of the table is third-placed Waitemata as they have a bye!

Game of the week

Franklin United would have had the title wrapped up weeks ago if it wasn’t for their tendency to drop points with five draws.

Despite being the competition’s only unbeaten team, they may well need to beat nearest challengers Bucklands Beach in the last game of their season.

First, they have to get past Northland who are desperate to climb away from the bottom end of the table.

With one team having so much to gain, and the other having plenty to lose, the match is primed to be a tense affair.

If Franklin win, and Bucklands Beach stumble against Central United, the title race could be over by Saturday night.

Northland need to spring the upset of the season, and will have one eye on other results.

Bucklands Beach can’t afford to slip up against Central United on Saturday. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

Bold prediction

Forget the form and relative positions on the league table — this is the weekend when some teams will find hidden reserves in their collective efforts for glory or safety from relegation.

My pick is that there’ll be a couple of upsets; I’m just not sure which games will provide them.

Chances are the title and the relegation candidates won’t be determined this weekend.

Last week I tipped Waitemata to roll Beachlands Maraetai by a three-goal margin. The sides drew 2-2.

The title race

Here’s the fixtures run-in for the two title challengers:

  • Franklin United — Northland (h), Bucklands Beach (h).
  • Bucklands Beach — Central United (h), Beachlands Maraetai (a), Franklin United (a).

The relegation scrap

Four sides are at risk of the drop. Here are their final fixtures:

  • Albany United — Beachlands Maraetai (h), West Auckland (a)
  • Central United — Bucklands Beach (a), Northland (a)
  • West Auckland — Oratia United (h), Albany United (h)
  • Northland — Franklin United (a), Central United (h)


Games to be played on Saturday August 19, 2023

Franklin United v Northland
Walter Massey Park, Manukau, 3pm

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

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

Albany United v Beachlands Maraetai
Rosedale Park, Albany, 3pm

Waitemata — 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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