AUCKLAND – The New Zealand Football Championship (NZFC) has provided and exciting and entertaining opening four weeks with 92 goals coming from the opening 16
Team Wellington have come storming out of the gate winning their first four games, including an early upset over OFC champions Waitakere United. After only winning seven games last season
Wellington have found a new lease of life under the tutelage of Stu Jacobs, and his mixture of experience and youth has provided the perfect platform for his young players to shine. Former
Waitakere player Daniel Ellenshon seems to have benefited the most under the guidance of Jacobs and three goals in the opening two games resulted in a call up for the 22-year-old to the All White
squad for New Zealand’s world cup qualifiers against Vanuatu.
Auckland City and Waitakere United find themselves in unfamiliar territory battling it out for second and third spot but both sides seem to be hitting their straps coming into week five. They tied
1-1 in last week’s tense derby at the Croatian Club in Te Atatu, the first points that Auckland have dropped all season. Auckland’s charge is being led by Scottish Striker Bryan Little, who has
four goals in four games and is leading the golden boot race. Waitakere are spreading their share with six goals scored by five different players.
Youngheart Manawatu have snapped back into life after registering only one point in their opening three games to thrash Otago 6-0 in last weekend’s encounter. Coach Shane Rufer believes his squad
has the potential to make the playoffs spot and last week’s result reflects a new found belief in the squad. A matchup this week with Waitakere United will put his team to the test.
Waikato FC got off to a good start beating Otago away from home but has since failed to replicate that early form. Plagued by injuries the young squad lost by a single goal to both Waitakere and
Wellington before picking up a point with an 89th minute penalty against a struggling Canterbury side. Waikato faces Auckland City this weekend in a grudge match which brings former Auckland coach
Roger Wilkinson up against his old side.
The Hawkes Bay squad is brimming with youth and have been an entertaining side to follow. They conceded early in the season opener before scoring three late goals to beat Canterbury 3-1, and lost
4-3 to Wellington in a game where they chased back an early three goal deficit before losing to a late strike. Their dangerous strike force of All White Jarrod Smith and Jeremy Brockie looks one of
the more fearsome in the league and they will be expecting to take points off Otago this weekend.
Canterbury and Otago are the only two sides in the league yet to register a win. Two points for Canterbury and one for Otago make grim reading for fans early on and both sides may need to look at
some new signings during the transfer window.
Round 5 Schedule
Waitakere United v Youngheart Manawatu Sat, Dec 1 3pm Fred
Otago United v Hawkes Bay United Sun, Dec 2
Waikato FC v Auckland City Sun, Dec
2 2pm Waikato Stadium
Canterbury United v Team Wellington Sun, Dec 2
4pm English Park