Cambridge have taken maximum league points from their opening two games in the Lotto NRFL second division, having beaten Oratia United 1-0 in a tense game at John Kerkhof Park.
The Reds followed up last week’s 2-1 win at Franklin United with a hard-fought win against a capable Auckland side that might have clawed a draw but for a couple of near misses and a match-winning save by Cambridge goalkeeper Patrick Steele.
But already, this Cambridge side looks more resilient than last year’s version, a side that might have succumbed to the draw.
Having taken the lead in the 20th minute through last year’s top scorer, Josh Clarkin, Cambridge were prepared to defend in numbers and kept their heads in midfield where both sides contested possession.
Clarkin’s goal followed patient play which saw him turn his defender and then coolly slot the ball past ‘keeper Jonathan Mannes.
In the 33rd minute, Oratia went close to an equaliser with a long shot that crashed the Cambridge crossbar.
And with half-time almost reached, Harry Wick headed off the Cambridge line to keep the visitors scoreless.
The second half saw both teams battle for possession and few clear chances were created, though the speed and aggressive running by Reds’ wide players Callum MacLeod and Luke Stephenson kept the Oratia defenders busy.
Goalkeeper Steele produced an outstanding save in the 73rd minute, steering a fierce shot past his post with an outstretched left hand (see main photograph, image courtesy Louis Roberts).
Cambridge supporters survived a nervous seven minutes of added time before referee Andrew Mitchell finally blew for full time.
Next Saturday, Cambridge host Claudelands Rovers in a local derby. Rovers are also unbeaten, having won their opening games against Oratia United and Albany United.
Saturday’s matchday sponsor was Score Sportswear, distributors of Lotto Sportswear
Mascots and ball boys/girls
Today’s mascots and ball boys were provided by Cambridge’s 10th-grade boys.
Images courtesy of Cambridge FC’s official photographer Louis Roberts
Lotto NRFL second division results
Metro FC 2, Franklin United 4
Scorers: Metro – Mario Aroca 28′ 65′; Franklin – Shameel Rao 8′, Marc Lindsay 35′ 70′, Own Goal 56′.
Cambridge 1, Oratia United 0
Scorer: Cambridge – Josh Clarkin 19′.
Onehunga Mangere United 4, Unimount Bohemian Celtic 6
Scorers: OMU – Alex Witteveen 15’ [pen], David Carron 73’ 77’ 87’; Unimount – Sen Patterson 19’ 44’ 45+2’ 76’, Craig Todd 38’, Paul Durno 78’,
Northland FC 1, Ngongotaha 0
Scorer: Northland – Kyle Levell 81′.
Manurewa 2, Greenhithe Catimba 1
Scorers: Manurewa – Michael Hough 52’, Kieran Nevey 59’ [pen]; Greehithe – Marvin Youhana 39′.
Albany United 3, Claudelands Rovers 4
Scorers: Albany – Jack Beguely 19’ 39’ 86’; Claudelands – Jono Viviani 14’, George Frise 40’, Henry Thompson 78’, Dan Finlay 81’)
Cambridge Reserves lost the early game 6-0 to Oratia United.