PREVIEW: ‘Six-pointer’ provides Waitemata with chance to go clear

By Jack Sharp

Leaders Waitemata get the chance this weekend to stretch their lead to seven points in the Lotto NRFL Men’s Northern Conference.

They play Northland in a top-of-the-table match that could have a major bearing on how the table looks at season’s end.

Third-placed Waiheke United dropped points last time out to bottom side Oratia United, putting them under pressure to get a win at Te Atatu.

Oratia remain in search of their first win and their stoppage time 1-1 draw against Waiheke United will give them hope against an inconsistent Bucklands Beach who returned to winning ways last week with a 5-0 hammering of local rivals Beachlands Maraetai.

Beachlands Maraetai play Albany United, giving both teams chance to atone for last round losses.

Game of the week

Waitemata’s game against Northland is a classic example of a ‘six-pointer’, as the leading teams in the competition go head to head at McLeod Park.

Waitemata can extend their lead over Northland to seven points with a win, or the gap could close to a single point if the visitors win.

The west Aucklanders are unbeaten at home this season and have lost only once in the competition — when they tumbled 3-0 to Northland on May 4 in the reverse fixture.

Since then, Waitemata have put together a six-match unbeaten run, while Northland have been hard to follow.

Northland have won four of their last six but lost to Waiheke United and Albany United.

Of those four wins, three were by 3-2 scorelines, suggesting a bold approach by the northerners.

Another 3-2 result — to either side — would not be a surprise, and the fixture promises to be entertaining.

Mark Giles … joint leader in the Golden Boot. Photo: Phototek.

Players to watch

Suddenly, it’s game on for this year’s Golden Boot.

After leading the scorers’ table almost from the start, Beachlands Maraetai’s Mark Giles has been caught by Bucklands Beach’s Sander Waterland, who scored a hat-trick in his side’s 5-0 win against Giles’ team last week.

The two players are level on nine goals for the season, with James Chamberlain-Barlow (Albany United) and Fumiya Ito (Northland) tucked in behind on seven apiece.

The Golden Boot race will provide further interest in a competition that’s been dominated, so far, by Waitemata and their ‘catch-us-if-you-can’ challenge to the rest of the league.

Bold prediction

Waiheke United slipped up last week, allowing bottom side Oratia United to snatch a point with a goal in stoppage time for a 1-1 draw.

Missing out on the three points could be costly for Waiheke’s promotion hopes so they’ll badly need a win at Te Atatu.

I think they’ll have learned from last week and will get the win they need.

Last week, I tipped a draw between Waitema and Albany United. No chance — Waitemata wrapped up a 3-1 win despite going behind early.

Golden Boot

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


Games to be played on Saturday July 6, 2024

Waitemata v Northland
McLeod Park, Te Atatu, 3pm

Te Atatu v Waiheke United
Te Atatu Peninsula Park, Te Atatu, 3pm

Oratia United v Bucklands Beach
Parrs Park, Oratia, 3pm

Beachlands Maraetai v Albany United
Te Puru Park, Beachlands, 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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