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New Zealand National League begins in style

Bay Olympic's Thomas Boss celebrates one of his hat-trick of goals in a 4-0 win over North Shore United. Photo: Bay Olympic AFC Facebook/Simon Harmer.

The 2022 New Zealand National League is now underway with men’s and women’s action in the Northern League and early contenders in Central and Southern regions emerging. 

Last year’s table-toppers Auckland City FC have enjoyed a perfect start to the new season, winning their opening game 2-1 v Melville United AFC before narrowly beating newly-promoted Takapuna AFC 2-1. But it is Bay Olympic AFC who currently top the Northern League. They, along with Auckland City and Birkenhead United AFC have enjoyed a 100 percent start to the season, including a 4-0 win over North Shore United AFC in which captain Thomas Boss scored a five-minute hat-trick.

Northern League runner-ups from last year, Auckland United FC, lost their opening game of the season after a late goal from Luke Allport secured a 1-0 win for Birkenhead. Auckland United bounced back in game week two, beating Manukau United FC 4-0 away, thanks in part to a Joshua Redfearn hat-trick.

Takapuna’s loss to Auckland City came after they won their first game back at this level against Eastern Suburbs. Waiheke United AFC, the other newly-promoted side in the Northern League, lost their opening game to Manukau United but picked up their first points of the season in game week two with a 1-1 draw at Western Springs AFC.

This was Western Springs’ second 1-1 draw of the season following their tie with Hamilton Wanderers on March 26.

Hamilton secured their first win of the season in game week two, beating Eastern Suburbs FC who, along with Melville and North Shore, are yet to pick up a point this season.

In the New Zealand Women’s National League the Northern League is also now in full flow. After Covid-19 saw no Northern representations in last year’s finale, due to lockdowns across Auckland and Waikato, play is now underway to discover the four teams from the north who qualify for the final National League.

Ellerslie AFC lead the way with two wins from two, beating league newcomers Tauranga City AFC 6-0 and Kate Sheppard Cup finalists Hamilton Wanderers 2-0 to lay down an early marker. Hollie Leona and Kathryn Gow highlighted their Golden Boot credentials with three goals each from the opening two games.

Northern Rovers FC have won their only game in the competition so far, beating Eastern Suburbs AFC 6-1.

Auckland United FC bounced back from an opening day 1-0 loss to Western Springs AFC by beating Tauranga 3-1 in the Bay of Plenty.

Meanwhile, Tauranga’s fellow newcomers West Coast Rangers got their first win at this level by beating Western Springs 1-0 second time out, after a narrow reverse scoreline v Eastern Suburbs in their first game.

The top four teams in the Northern League will join Central Football, Capital Football, Canterbury United Pride and Southern United in the eight-team Women’s National League later this year.

In the men’s Central League, the winners of last year’s National League: South Central Series, Miramar Rangers AFC, were held in their opening game of the Central League, 2-2 against Wellington Phoenix Reserves at Fraser Park.

Miramar bounced back in style for game week two, defeating Western Suburbs 8-0, whilst Phoenix Reserves also won their second fixture, 3-0 at home to Petone Football Club – Riley Bidois’ two goals across those games helping him earn a senior call-up to the A-League side.

But it is Wellington Olympic AFC, last year’s Central League winners, who have so far led the way, winning their opening two games against winless Petone and Wellington United AFC 5-1 and 4-0 respectively to start strong.

Napier City Rovers AFC also have a 100 percent record but have played just one game after their fixture with North Wellington FC was postponed, meaning Wellington Olympic top the table at present.

Joining Miramar and Phoenix Reserves behind the league leaders on four points are Waterside Karori, who drew with North Wellington in their first game before beating Havelock North Wanderers AFC 4-1.

North Wellington have one point whilst Havelock North, Wellington United, Petone and Western Suburbs are still waiting for their first points of the season.

Down south and after two rounds in the Southern League it is Christchurch United FC who are on top, winning 3-2 v Coastal Spirit and 4-1 v Dunedin City Royals FC to claim maximum points from the opening set of fixtures.

Chatham Cup winners Cashmere Technical and Nelson Suburbs FC are right behind them on three points each with a game in hand after their game week two match was postponed due to Covid-19 issues.

Ferrymead Bays FC, Dunedin City Royals and Green Island AFC also have three points each, but from two games, after respective losses to Cashmere Technical, Christchurch United and Nelson Suburbs.

Coastal Spirit, Nomads United AFC and Mosgiel AFC are all currently awaiting their first points of the season whilst Selwyn United FC are yet to play, with their most recent scheduled fixture v Coastal Spirit postponed after a Covid-19 outbreak.

Details of the rescheduled fixtures in all leagues will be confirmed by New Zealand Football in due course.

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