First up, congratulations to HNK Auckland for making it 10 out of 10 and securing promotion to the Championship. I’m sure there will be a number of teams looking forward to hosting them next season, assuming they’re still in that division. United FC this year, much like Auckland Wanderers last year and many other teams before them, have shown that the step up is not too great between League 1 and the Championship. KTB’s chances of back to back promotions took a bit of a hit at the weekend however, but I’m sure that they will still be there or thereabouts come the end of the season and they will get the opportunity to test themselves against a Premiership team this weekend in the Quarter-Finals of the Cup. I’m sure the Inter boys will be not be expecting an easy ride into the Semis!
In the Premiership, Inter warmed up for this weekends cup game with an impressive 4-2 away win at third placed Auckland Volcanoes, whilst many people’s favourite for the title, Auckland Wanderers experienced their first league defeat of the season (and possibly ever???) at the hands of Bohemian Celtic’s. Wanderer’s shock 5-0 defeat keeps them 3 points behind leaders Zamantix Rovers, who had their game against Indy postponed, and level on points with Volcanoes. At least they get to return to Bill McKinley this week for a cup match against Boh’s Celtic 2, who had the BYE.
In the Championship, AUT FC were able to capitalise on KTB’s post-Lions Test hangover(s), to take the 3 points in what was arguably the first 6 pointer of the season. KTB came back from 3-0 down to make it 3-3, but AUT scored again to secure a 4-3 win that puts them in second place, 3 points above their opponents. Above them, United FC proved too strong for the University of Auckland, winning 3-1 and maintaining their 4 point cushion at the top. I am looking forward to seeing how they go against Premiership leaders in the Cup Quarter-Final this weekend. Khukuri moved above the UoA into 4th place following their 2-0 win over Kingsland, whilst the battle of the bottom two (SudAmerica vs City Fringe) finished 3-3, meaning neither side were able to move out of the relegation spots at Kingsland’s expense.
In League 1, HNK won 4-1 away to Nixon Park to maintain their 9 point lead at the top and guarantee that they will be playing six new teams next season. Second-placed Auckland Wanderers 2 were beaten 3-2 by fourth-placed Dalian, allowing third-placed Zamantix Rovers Return the opportunity to close the gap on the promotion places. They accepted this, beating Kamarak 3-1. AUT FC 2 continue to get stronger each week and were able to move out of the relegation places for the first time this season, following their 5-3 win over the UoA FC reserves at Taharoto Park.
In League 2, the match of the day saw leaders Viti lose their 100% record at the hands of second-placed Double Rum Greenhithe, in a six-goal 3-3 thriller. the draw allowed both U-Striker and Zamantix Force to close the gap to the promotion places to a single point, following their away wins over Auckland Unicorns (3-1) and Aotea Sport Eastern (8-2) respectively. Massey recorded their best result of the season, beating bottom-placed All Red 7-0 to effectively cancel out the 7 points that they have been stripped this season. they now have zero points despite recording 2 wins and a draw on the field.
in the Masters league, the Old Fellas have a 6 point advantage at the top of the table after a 1-0 win over Serious FC, whilst Second-placed Waiheke Old Fullas returned from their day trip to Pukekohe with a 5-0 win and 3 more points to their name. Zamantix Old Boys secured a narrow 3-2 away win against Greenhithe City to ensure they remain joint second.
Good luck to everyone involved in Cup and Plate action this Sunday, especially those playing teams from the leagues above. Old Fellas (1st, Masters) have arguably the toughest task ahead when they host Auckland Wanderers 2 (2nd, League 1), but they have plenty of age and experience to rely on!