Points forfeit throws lifeline to winless Waiheke in NRFL Men’s Championship

By Jonno Ross

Waiheke United have been thrown a lifeline — they still have a chance of surviving the drop to the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference, the league below the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship.

A week ago, after a 4-1 loss to Ngaruawahia United, relegation seemed certain.

Since then, Northern Region Football have docked Metro four points for playing an ineligible player in two games.

READ MORE: Metro docked points for fielding ineligible player in NRFL Men’s Championship >>>>

Overnight, Waiheke United moved within seven points of Metro with three games to play — including this weekend’s clash between the clubs.

Meanwhile, at the top of the table, East Coast Bays, Tauranga City and Mount Albert Ponsonby are fighting for the two promotion spots to the Northern League, while fourth-placed Ngaruawahia United have dropped out of the race.

Metro substitute Ryan Cain is congratulated by teammates after scoring against Ellerslie earlier this season. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Game of the week

The forfeit of four points has turned Waiheke United’s game against Metro into a must-win affair for the islanders who have not won a league game in more than a year.

The last time these two played each other, they shared the points in a dramatic 3-3 draw, and Waiheke will have the belief and extra motivation to get the job done for their first win of the season.

If United can get the win, that seven-point gap closes to just four, making their last two games against Fencibles United and Northern Rovers ‘must-win’ fixtures if they are to pull off a great escape.

Metro can wreck United’s dreams of a miracle with a win or draw, but if they slip up, they face Hibiscus Coast away, and Ngaruawahia at home in their final matches — tricky fixtures with the pressure on.

Mount Albert Ponsonby’s Sam Tutton in action against Ngaruawahia United in May. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

Player to watch

Mount Albert Ponsonby’s leading goalscorer, Sam Tutton, will look to add to his eight goals against Onehunga Mangere this weekend.

It’s been a while since Tutton (29) last scored — and he’ll be eager to net a few more by the season’s end, to win the club’s overall Golden Boot in his first season since switching from Bay Olympic.

Bold prediction

This week could be Waiheke United’s best opportunity to finally get off the mark with their first win in a year, and I think they’ll do it against Metro.

In the reverse fixture, it finished 3-3, but this weekend I predict a 2-1 win to the home side.

Last week, I predicted Waiheke would be making their exit from the Men’s Championship. They lost 4-1, but fate has given them a second chance.


Games to be played on Saturday August 26, 2023

Waiheke United v Metro
Onetangi Sports Complex, Waiheke, 3pm

Fencibles United v Tauranga City
Riverhills Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Ngaruawahia United v North Shore United
Centennial Park, Ngaruawahia, 3pm

READ MORE: Ngaruawahia United’s programme for match with North Shore United >>>>

Hibiscus Coast v Northern Rovers
Stanmore Bay Park, Whangaparaoa, 3pm

Mount Albert Ponsonby v Onehunga Mangere United
Anderson Park, Mt Albert, 3pm

Ellerslie v East Coast Bays
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 5.00pm

Jonno Ross

Friends of Football writer Jonno Ross is a former New Zealand U-20 goalkeeper who is the first team manager for Mount Albert Ponsonby. He supports the All Whites, the Football Ferns, the Wellington Phoenix and Arsenal.

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