A mixture of Cup and Catch up’s this week, with all-but-one of our 2017 Finalists now known and a few changes of positions in the lower leagues.
I’ll start with the Premiership/Championship Cup, which saw the Premiership League Leaders Internationale comfortably overcome the Premierships bottom-placed Bohemian Celtic 2 with a 5-1 victory at Parr Park. This win set’s up a mouthwatering final at the same venue against their stablemates Independiente, who were able to edge a much closer semi-final against long-time Championship leaders United FC. Our President will be happy!
Our second set of Cup finalists will be confirmed on Friday night when the undefeated League 1 Champions HNK Auckland take on the undefeated League 2 leaders Viti FC (champions-in-waiting) in their re-scheduled Semi-Final. The winner of this clash will face Zamantix Rovers Returns, who denied Auckland Wanderers 2 a place at finals day in their ASFA first season with a 4-0 win.
An 89th minute equaliser, scored by the Auckland Volcanoes goal-keeper, helped the holders secure their place in the final of the Premiership/Championship Plate for a second year running, as they went on to win 3-1 in extra time against fellow Premiership side Bohemian Celtic 1. Interestingly, their opponents this season will be a Championship team who will be ineligible to defend the trophy should they get their hands on it on September 17th. The recently relegated Kingsland Athletic beat the second relegated Championship side SudAmerica 4-1 in the other semi-final, and will surely go into the final as the underdogs.
The second-tier plate final will also feature two teams from different divisions, one of whom needs a win this Sunday to avoid being relegated into League 2 (on goal difference). Nixon Park will however enter the Plate final as favourites, having proved to strong for the Old Fullas from Waiheke with a 5-2 victory. Their opponents, League 2’s U-Striker, scored 3 goals in extra time to knock out Zamantix Rovers Old Boys, in a game that was locked at 2-2 after 90 minutes. The final score was 5-3.
Elsewhere, there were 5 catch up games across the 5 ASFA divisions, including a fixture between two teams that were still yet to meet in the league this season. In fact, had Zamantix Rovers played Auckland Wanderers when this game was originally scheduled (week 6), the winner would have opened a small gap at top of the league. The outcome on Sunday was a 1-1 draw, a result that effectively ended Auckland Wanderers hopes to using their four (not six, as incorrectly stated last week!) games in hand to rise up the table and deny Internationale the title. The point was also not enough to send Bohemian Celtic 2 down into the Championship and secure Wanderer’s place in the Premiership in 2018.
Whilst the Premiership title could well be decided this Sunday, the battle for Championship glory, and a place in the Premiership, is still anyone’s guess with Kiwi True Blues and AUT FC 1 both securing valuable wins in their catch up games against the University of Auckland and City Fringe respectively. KTB’s 3-2 win sees them take the top spot on goal difference with two games remaining. AUT FC’s 5-1 win was their biggest for a couple of years and not only took them above the team they play this weekend, but also helped their goal difference. The winner of the AUT vs United FC fixture this weekend will take the top spot off KTB, who have to wait a week before their next catch-up up game.
In League 1, AUT FC 2’s 1-0 win over Dalian guaranteed them a top half finish with a game to spare. The Students conclude their season of two halves against Nixon Park, a team they have already beaten twice this season. As noted already, Nixon need all the points if they are to secure their League 1 spot for 2018.
There were no catch up games in League 2 at the weekend, but one would expect Viti FC to secure the title this coming weekend with 3 points against All Red. That said, Double Rum Greenhithe will no doubt be hoping that the Viti players have nothing left in their legs having played HNK on the Friday night. Could All Red pull off the shock result of the season?
With both Waiheke Old Fullas and Zamantix Rovers Old Boys involved in Semi-Finals, there was only one game played in the Master League in week 16, and that was a catch up game between Greenhithe City and league leaders Old Fellas. The 1-1 draw ensures the Old Fellas will have to wait a little bit longer to secure the title, with only Waiheke now being able to deny them.
that’s all folks… until next week!