Last weekend saw a top of the table clash for the Northern Region Football League (NRFL) northern conference and an east Auckland match-up as Beachlands Maraetai AFC travelled to Lloyd Elsmore to take on neighbours Bucklands Beach AFC.
Heading into the game, both sides had excellent seasons under their belt with Beachlands top of the table, two points ahead of Bucklands Beach.
To add more excitement to the derby match was the clash of the two top goals scorers in the league, Bucklands Beach’s Sander Waterland and Beachlands’ Aaron Parry both having each scored eight goals for the season.
The afternoon itself was fine, the pitch – considering the amount of rain recently – was in a good condition.
Bucklands Beach scored first through top scorer and performer Josh Smith, who has played all his football there since the age of six.
The underdogs then doubled their lead in the 15th minute with centre back Ethan Butler scoring his first goal of the season with a header.
Beachlands opened their scoring in the 38th minute with a free kick from Henry Lee, who has made a name for himself over the last few games with some decisive match-winning goals.
On the stroke of half-time Bucklands Beach were awarded a free kick on their side of halfway. Keeper Antony Mira sent the ball into a congested goal box only for the ball to find itself sail into the back of the net – 3-1 to Bucklands Beach at half time.
The back-and-forth match-up continued into the second half with both teams having moments of ascendancy.
It took until extra time for the next score, when Beachlands were awarded a penalty. The side’s top scorer Parry stepped up and buried it in the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
The referee played seven minutes of extra time, adding to the tension with Beachlands pushing forward for an equaliser, only for Bucklands Beach to break away and substitute Daniel McCarthy to score. Final score of 4-2 win to Bucklands Beach.
Bucklands Beach AFC co-coach Neil Finnigan said after the match it was a very pleasing performance from the boys against a strong Beachlands side. “The game could have gone either way but very happy with the three points,” he says.
The win puts the Barfoot & Thompson Kitty Long Bucklands Beach team in first place in the Northern League at the halfway point in the season.
Bucklands Beach AFC co-coach Warwick McCarthy says so far, it has been a very strong league and any team could win it.
“We just have to focus on each game and team as they come if we want to get promoted to the first division. We are very fortunate to have a strong reserve team and this is helping to keep the first team squad playing with confidence and covers for any injuries,” he says.
The two teams will meet again on August 26 in the final match of the season at Te Puru Park which promises to be another excellent showcase of east Auckland football.
NRFL Northern Conference Standings
|1||BUCKLANDS BEACH||7||5||1||1||16||+ 15|
|3||ORATIA UNITED||8||4||2||2||14||+ 4|
|4||FRANKLIN UNITED||7||3||4||0||13||+ 5|
|7||CENTRAL UNITED||8||2||2||4||8||– 10|
|8||ALBANY UNITED||8||1||3||4||6||– 7|
|9||WEST AUCKLAND||8||1||2||5||5||– 9|