Cambridge’s reputation for fighting till the final whistle was typified in this clash won 3-2 by Metro FC.
The Reds have come from behind on a number of occasions this season but they could not quite overhaul the three-goal lead built by Metro in the first half.
Mario Aroca gave the Aucklanders the lead after only two minutes.
He struck again in the 27th and 30th minutes, giving the home team a comfortable margin when the sides turned around.
But Cambridge had the better of the second half and substitute Dylan Blair pulled a goal back for the Reds in the 78th minute to spark a fightback and hopes of snatching a point.
As the game wound down, Josh Clarkin added Cambridge’s second in added time with a header low to the ground, to end the match at 3-2.
In all their games this season – except for a Chatham Cup tie won 6-2 against Papakura City – Cambridge have won or lost their fixtures by no more than a single goal.
The result means the second division table is getting tight with five teams all in the hunt for title and promotion honours.
Cambridge dropped to fifth spot but within two points of new league leaders Metro FC. Three of the top five sides all lost in this round, showing how competitive the second division has become.
Next Saturday, Cambridge travel to Claudelands Rovers’ Galloway Park for a local derby which will see the winner stay in touch with the league leaders.
Lotto NRFL second division results
Manurewa AFC 1 (Own Goal 8’)
Oratia United 4 (Michael Graham 4’, Own Goal 15’, Matt Banks 53’, Arus Sem 81’ [PEN])
Metro FC 3 (Mario Aroca 2’ 27’ 30’)
Cambridge 2 (Dylan Blair 78’, Josh Clarkin 90+2’)
Claudelands Rovers 0
Ngongotaha AFC 0
Onehunga Mangere United 3 (Charlie Heather 15’, Max Kwan 22’, Rinal Prasad 70’)
Greenhithe Catimba 3 (David Sandrinas 12’ 79’ 90+1’)
Northland FC 3 (Jai Campbell 36’, Mark Prowse 47’, Jeremy Rintoul 90+5’)
Franklin United 2 (Kartik Kumar 60’, Jake McCoy 90+1’)
Cambridge reserves lost 4-1 to Metro FC in the early game at Phyllis St.