PREVIEW: Red cards starting to hurt in Northern League as game bans kick in

By Jack Sharp

Northern League players who delay restarts or commit fouls to prevent a goalscoring opportunity are being punished by referees.

In the opening weeks of the Northern League season, players have been picking up cards for these offences, and now it’s starting to hurt.

Tauranga City will go into this weekend’s sixth round without captain Campbell Higgins, sent off in the 28th minute of his side’s 7-1 loss to Western Springs last week for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Eastern Suburbs’ skipper Adam Thomas sits out the round after getting two yellow cards against Manurewa, the second for delaying a restart.

Bay Olympic midfielder Ronaldo Munoz also cops a one-match ban for two yellow cards against Birkenhead United, depriving him of the chance to face his former club Manurewa this Saturday.

Eastern Suburbs’ Aaryan Raj … the New Zealand U-23 international has been showing good form this season. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Game of the week

Manurewa host Bay Olympic with both sides eager to climb out of the midtable cluster of teams.

Brett McMurdoch.

Manurewa’s position has come from points picked up against Melville United, West Coast Rangers and East Coast Bays — three of the bottom four sides in the competition.

When Rewa have played the better sides, they’ve come off second best, losing 2-1 to Western Springs and, last week, 3-0 to Eastern Suburbs.

But after the latest loss, Manurewa head coach Brett McMurdoch was adamant his side could have done better.

“The performance was encouraging, especially in the second half where we dominated, but unfortunately could not score. The scoreline did not reflect the match,” he told supporters through Rewa’s social media channels.

McMurdoch said errors made against Suburbs would be rectified by their next game.

Bay Olympic have early season wins against East Coast Bays and West Coast Rangers but have also beaten Eastern Suburbs.

Olympic will be without midfielder Ronaldo Munoz, who is suspended, and they’ll have the extra challenge of playing in front of a partisan home crowd.

Louis Caunter.

Player to watch

It’s always special when a goalkeeper gets on the scoresheet, and ‘keeper/captain Louis Caunter sparked big celebrations at Bay City Park last weekend when he scored the equaliser for East Coast Bays against Hamilton Wanderers.

Going up for a corner, Caunter (30) found the net nine minutes into stoppage time, to snatch a 2-2 draw with the Waikato side.

With both sides languishing at the bottom end of the table, Caunter’s goal could turn out to be crucial in the final reckoning.

The draw provided Bays’ first point since their promotion to the Northern League and they meet Birkenhead United under Friday night lights this week.

With Birkenhead’s new-look forward line starting to find their feet (and the net), Caunter could be in for a busy night.

Bold prediction

The top three clubs look to have routine wins ahead of them this weekend, all playing sides in the bottom four.

It’s hardly a bold prediction to tip all three to win. But I’ll be bold about the margins and tip all of them to win by margins of at least three goals.

Last week, I tipped Birkenhead United to beat Bay Olympic 2-1. They won 2-1.

Golden Boot

8 — Jake Mechell (Eastern Suburbs)
7 — Emiliano Tade (Western Springs), Jonty Bidois (Tauranga City)
5 — Liam Gillion (Auckland City)
4 — Corban Piper (Birkenhead United), Eber Ramirez (Manurewa), Joshua Tollervey (Auckland United)
3 — Derek Tieku (Hamilton Wanderers)


Games to be played on Friday April 19, 2023

Birkenhead United v East Coast Bays
Shepherds Park, Birkenhead, 7pm

Games to be played on Saturday April 20, 2024

Manurewa v Bay Olympic
Manurewa War Memorial Park, Manurewa, 3pm

Auckland City v Melville United
Kiwitea St, Sandringham, 3pm

Tauranga City v West Coast Rangers
Links Ave, Mt Maunganui, 3pm

Hamilton Wanderers v Western Springs
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, 5.30pm

Auckland United v Eastern Suburbs
Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill, 5.45m

Jack Sharp

Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football. You can show your appreciation for his work by buying him a coffee.

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