PREVIEW: Albany United get chance to close on Northern Conference leaders

By Jack Sharp

The Battle of the Beaches gets the Lotto NRFL Northern Conference off to an early start when Bucklands Beach host Beachlands Maraetai on Friday.

Both sides are too far adrift to catch the leading pack but traditional rivalry will give the Matariki game an edge.

Bucklands Beach won the reverse fixture 4-1 in April.

Title challengers Northland and Waiheke United both have home games against teams in the bottom half, suggesting they’ll be able to maintain the efforts to catch leaders Waitemata.

Albany United … get their chance to close the gap on leaders Waitemata. Photo: Andrew Skinner Phototek.

Game to watch

Albany United host leaders Waitemata in a game that has the potential to close the gap between the top four teams, if United can get the win.

Don’t underestimate Albany, who have won four of their last five games, making up for a poor start to the season.

Their only recent loss was a 1-0 defeat to Waiheke United, one of the competition’s leading pack.

Waitemata have been setting the pace, losing only one game all season.

The last time the two sides met, on April 20, Waitemata won 2-1 at McLeod Park.

Bold prediction

I’ll tip a draw between league leaders Waitemata and Albany United.

Albany have home advantage and good recent form. And, surely, Waitemata are overdue for an off day …

Last week I predicted Te Atatu might give neighbours Waitemata a tough time, with the possibility of an upset. However, Waitemata took the points with a 2-0 win.

Golden Boot

9 — Mark Giles (Beachlands Maraetai)
6 — Sander Waterland (Bucklands Beach), James Chamberlain-Barlow (Albany United)
5 — Josh Smith (Bucklands Beach), Adam Hargood (Waitemata), Fumiya Ito (Northland), Kyle Levell (Northland), Ramon Lindner (Waiheke United)
4 — Alexander Thurbon (Beachlands Maraetai), Ethan Carter (Northland), Sergio Lindner (Waiheke United), Nico Vanina (Waiheke United), Shane Tanner (Waitemata), Andy Kapteyn (Oratia United), Daniel Peak (Te Atatu), Jared Colligan (Te Atatu), Harry Murphy (Waitemata)


Game to be played on Friday June 28, 2024

Bucklands Beach v Beachlands Maraetai
Lloyd Elsmore Park, Pakuranga, 3pm

Games to be played on Saturday June 29, 2024

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

Northland v Te Atatu
Trigg Arena, Whangarei, 3pm

Albany United v Waitemata
Rosedale Park, Albany, 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. You can show your appreciation for his work by buying him a coffee.

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