PREVIEW: Second round likely to flush out contenders in Northern Conference

By Jack Sharp

Early days yet, but this weekend’s fixtures promise to provide more clues as to which teams will become title contenders in this year’s Lotto NRFL Men’s Northern Conference.

First-round winners Waitemata, Albany United, Waiheke United and Beachlands Maraetai all get the chance to take maximum points.

Last week

READ MORE: Squad lists: Who played for who in NRFL Northern Conference opening round >>>>

RESULTS: Saturday’s winners, scorers and latest league tables >>>>

RESULTS: Friday’s winners, scorers and latest league tables >>>>

Game of the week

Round 2, and we’ve already got a top-of-the-table clash with first-round winners Albany United hosting Waiheke United.

Both clubs had poor seasons last year, with Waiheke dropping into the Conference from the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship.

But early evidence is that both clubs could have better times ahead.

Albany won their season opener 2-0 at Northland with a side that included new signings in proven goalscorer Carl Burgoyne (from Bucklands Beach) and veteran Agustin Saint-Germes (previously with Northern Rovers and East Coast Bays).

The squad has a good mix of youngsters and older players.

They’ll be tested by the only other team to register a clean sheet in round 1, Waiheke United.

Waiheke United’s Niko Vanina tries to find space between two Tauranga City players last season. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.

They beat Bucklands Beach — one of the pre-season favourites for the title — 2-0, and, significantly, one of the goals was scored by Niko Vanina.

Vanina (31) was Waiheke’s leading goalscorer for three seasons, scoring 22 goals in the Northern League and the Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship before signing for Birkenhead ahead of last June’s transfer deadline.

He’s now back at Waiheke United, and that will give the islanders a huge boost for the season ahead.

Players to watch

Hats off to Waitemata’s Sam Sedon (32) who made his 200th first-team appearance for the club at Easter.

The club named him captain for their local derby against Oratia United, and Sedon led them to a 5-2 victory at Parrs Park, scoring from the penalty spot to cap a top day for him and the team.

Waitemata are at home against Bucklands Beach on Saturday.

Mark Giles … opening day hat-trick was a fair reward for his loyalty to Beachlands Maraetai. Photo: Phototek.

Beachlands Maraetai’s Mark Giles collared the first hat-trick of the Northern Conference, with two from the penalty spot, in his side’s 4-3 win at Te Atatu.

Now 26, Giles has been with Beachlands since he was a youth player, and the hat-trick is an early season reward for his loyalty.

Bold prediction

Te Atatu came unstuck in the opening round, conceding two penalties and blowing a 3-2 second-half lead to lose 4-3 to Beachlands Maraetai.

The problems started with the first-half dismissal of their goalkeeper Petr Jakoubek, an off-season signing from Uni-Mount Bohemian. He’ll be stood down for Saturday’s trip to Oratia United at Parrs Park.

Petr Jakoubek … sent off in his debut for Te Atatu. Photo: Phototek.

Assuming they can adequately replace Jakoubek between the posts, Te Atatu should be able to go better against Oratia.

I’m picking a win for Te Atatu.


Games to be played on Saturday April 6, 2024

Oratia United v Te Atatu
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

Albany United v Waiheke United
Rosedale Park, Albany, 3pm

Beachlands Maraetai v Northland
Te Puru Park, Beachlands, 3pm

Waitemata v Bucklands Beach
Tahurangi/Crum Park, Titirangi, 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.

More football stories