Cambridge and local rivals Claudelands Rovers settled for a 1-1 draw in an entertaining Lotto NRFL second division derby at Hamilton’s Galloway Park.
For Cambridge, it was the Reds’ fourth draw in five games but a useful point all the same as Rovers have been in top form, and in third spot on the competition ladder.
The Reds started strongest and created several early chances.
Callum MacLeod hit the bar from a distance, and Rovers ‘keeper Adam O’Rourke was at full stretch to turn another Cambridge effort to safety, shaving the post on the way.
The pressure paid off in the 25th minute when Cambridge’s leading goalscorer, Josh Clarkin, got into space and unleashed a shot from 12 metres into the roof of the net.
It was his 11th goal of the season and he remains the division’s second top goalscorer.
In the 37th minute, Claudelands Rovers levelled with a well-taken goal by Owen Comber whose shot looped over the head of Cambridge goalkeeper Fraser Nicholls.
Though that was the end of the goalscoring for the day, the rest of the match was absorbing as both sides played fast, passing football and were willing to throw players forward.
Elliot Cooper, in centre midfield, and Josh Clarkin, playing deeper than usual, combined well in the middle while Cambridge’s defence coped well with Rovers’ attacks, despite the absence of injured skipper Patrick Woodlock.
The speed of the game led to a few fouls but referee Daniel Wilkinson let the game flow, enabling a second half of end-to-end football and either side had chances to win the match.
In the end, a draw was a fair result.
Next Saturday, the Reds travel to Auckland for a Lotto NRFL fixture against Papakura City.
Main photo: Josh Clarkin unleashes a shot, supported by teammates Callum MacLeod (left) and Daniel Clarkin.
Lotto NRFL results
Takapuna AFC 0-0 Northland FC (HT: 0-0)
Ngongotaha AFC 4-3 Te Atatu (HT: 2-1)
NGO: Yamil Casas 20′ (PEN) 28′ (PEN), Harlem Simiona 48′, Luke Barker 90+1′; TEA: David Carmody 23′, Rhys Caples 61′, Robert Pike 67′
Albany United 4-1 Metro FC (HT: 3-1)
ALB: Andrew Mobberley 9′ 25′, Marc Porter 16′, Ben Semple 85′; MET: Josh Dayal 32′
Franklin United 4-1 Papakura City (HT: 2-1)
FRA: James Hoyt 29′ 63′ 83′, Charlie Heather 41′; PAP: Rajnesh Sharma 7′
Bucklands Beach AFC 1-0 Onehunga Mangere United (HT: 0-0)
BUC: Josh Kingston Smith 60′
Claudelands Rovers 1-1 Cambridge FC (HT: 1-1)
CLA: Owen Comber 37′; CAM: Josh Clarkin 24′
Earlier, Cambridge’s reserves team beat Claudelands Rovers 4-2 in a Lotto NRFL second division reserves fixture.