D2: Northland start with win

They may have escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season but Northland FC have made a winning start to their Lotto NRFL Second Division campaign after beating Te Atatu United 4-2 in Whangarei today.

Perrennial strugglers stuck at the bottom of the Second Division for the most of last season, Northland FC benefited after Ngaruawahia United’s last gasp withdrawal set in motion a range of circumstances that Northland FC coach Daniel Johnston was keen for his charges to grasp tightly.

Northland FC brushed aside Lynn-Avon United in the hastily arranged promotion/relegation playoff made necessary by the Green Machine’s departure from the stage.

And Northland FC have seized the underdog label with passion and tenacity.

Too good for Te Atatu United in today’s season opener at Tikipunga Park, Johnston was satisfied with the start his team have made.

“We’ve got the underdog mentality about us because of how last season panned out for the club.

“That’s helped us in a way because there are very few expectations on us.

“Teams underestimate us and we’ve tried to implement a style of play that can catch teams off guard.

“We’ve focused on a transitional game that relies on quality, ball speed and speed of thought of our players. Its one of our key weapons,” Johnston said.

Elsewhere, Fencibles United got off to a flyer after they drubbed Claudelands Rovers 6-1.

Sean Latimer smashed a hat-trick and there was a double for N’Daye Balumba. David Hough also scored for United while Rovers’ consolation goal came courtesy of Dean Shaw.

Onehunga-Mangere United coach John Bennett would have been a happy man after his team notched a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Albany United.

Junho Hong opened the scoring for Albany United but Conrad Hooten and Stanley Onacha were on target as the Mountain Men lived up to their coaches pre-match assertion their team spirit would be a key factor in their season.

There were contrasting fortunes for two Lotto NRFL newcomers with Ngongotaha losing 1-0 to Papatoetoe AFC via a first half Suvio Reddy goal while Waiheke United’s debut proved full of colour after they defeated Takapuna AFC 2-1 at Taharoto Park.

Former Canterbury United player Renta Yamamoto scored first for Takapuna AFC but goals for Lautro Gauna and Kelly Escholme made sure Waiheke United’s travelling supporters were treated to a perfect day off-island.

Papakura City and Mangere United contested the opening days late kick-off.


Lotto NRFL Second Division

Saturday 25 March 2017



Takapuna AFC 1 (Renta Yamamoto 7′)
Waiheke United 2 (Lautro Gauna 26′, Kelly Escholme 59′)
Halftime: 1-1

Ngongotaha AFC 0
Papatoetoe AFC 1 (Suvio Reddy 34′)
Halftime: 0-1

Onehunga-Mangere United 2 (Conrad Hooten 45+1′, Stanley Onacha 61′)
Albany United 1 (Junho Hong 20′)
Halftime: 1-1

Fencibles United 6 (David Hough 72′, Sean Latimer 28′, 45′, 69′, N’daye Balumba 34′, 82′)
Claudelands Rovers 1 (Dean Shaw 90+2′)
Halftime: 3

Northland FC 4 (Jordan Rudman 18′, 60′, Mark Rudell 65′, Josh Nishitani-Hart 32′)
Te Atatu AFC 2 (Rhys Cadles 21′, 52′)
Halftime: 2-1

Papakura City 2 (Apisai Smith 57′, 78′)
Mangere United 2 (Sanni Issa 37′, Rajav Bala 90+2′)
Halftime: 0-1