A second-half penalty was the deciding factor in an even Northern League encounter, won 3-2 by Oratia United at Cambridge’s John Kerkhof Park.
Until the penalty, awarded by referee Andy Holdsworth for a clumsy tackle just inside the area, the sides had struck tit-for-tat goals and both hit the crossbar in a close fixture.
The game started at pace with both sides willing to switch play and go down the flanks.
Cambridge went ahead in the 20th minute when Josh Clarkin, playing a deeper role in this game, struck a low piledriver from outside the area that just sneaked inside the Oratia post.
Within three minutes, the west Aucklanders had levelled the score when Matthew Banks capitalised on confusion in the Reds defence.
And a couple of minutes later, Banks put his side 2-1 up with a well-taken goal.
Cambridge wingers Josh Nooijen and Mike Cosgrave were providing width and kept their markers guessing, switching flanks and looking to create chances for Dylan Blair or Josh Clarkin.
Cosgrave was rewarded in the 41st minute when he found space in front of Oratia ‘keeper Jonathan Mannes to poke a cross into the net.
The sides turned around at 2-2, a fair scoreline based on chances and effort.
Ten minutes into the second half, Oratia won their penalty.
Banks stepped up and calmly stroked the ball past Cambridge ‘keeper Fraser Nicholls to complete his hat-trick and give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
Cambridge finished strongly, peppering the Oratia goal with a series of corners and had one effort headed off the line by a desperate defender.
Time ran out for the Reds who have already shown an aptitude for attacking football in their two Lotto NRFL games so far.
With two high-scoring losses – they were beaten 4-3 by Claudelands Rovers in round one – supporters can’t complain about a lack of entertainment.
But a win would be welcome … and next weekend (July 4), the Reds get another chance when they travel to Hibiscus Coast, north of Auckland.
Main photo: Mike Cosgrave shapes to go past an Oratia United defender.
Lotto NRFL second division results
Uni-Mount Bohemian 6 (Gregor Wilson 18’, Sean Patterson 30’ 45’, Keith Anderson 33’ 40’, Craig Todd 44’)
Papatoetoe 1 (Craig Allen 36’)
Onehunga Mangere 4 (Gilberto Souza 16’ 49’ – PEN, Leon Van Der Heijden 70’, Osman Rastagar 84’ – PEN)
Hibiscus Coast 3 (Pete Benjatikul 13’, Julian Halkyard 55’, Tyler Agiovlassitis 90+6’)
Cambridge 2 (Josh Clarkin 20’, Michael Cosgrave 41’)
Oratia United 3 (Matthew Banks 23’ 26’ 53’ – PEN)
Northland 1 (Ben Porter 77’)
Claudelands Rovers 2 (Jono Viviani 39’, Harry Christensen-Rose 51’)
Franklin United 5 (Mohammed Shah 10’, Chris Abbott 21’ 66’, Matthew Lishout 54’ 63’)
Fencibles United 0
Greenhithe Catimba 0
The club’s official photographer Louis Roberts captured these images at the game – please click on the image to open to full size.
Cambridge Reserves beat Oratia United Reserves 4-1 in the early game.