Onehunga-Mangere will visit Cambridge this season as the club regained its place in the Northern League’s division two after a two-legged play-off against Beachlands-Maraetai.
The two Auckland clubs played a 1-1 draw before Onehunga-Mangere took the second leg 2-0 to take the final spot in the second divison line-up.
The merger of Mangere United and Manukau City late last year created a vacancy in the division and competition organisers decided the fairest way to fill it was to bring together Onehunga-Mangere, relegated last year, and Beachlands-Maraetai who were beaten by Cambridge in September’s promotion play-off series.
Cambridge has links with both clubs.
Onehunga-Mangere is coached by former All White player and assistant coach Brian Turner who has been an occasional visitor to Cambridge in recent seasons, and has provided coaching advice to our club. He was appointed at Onehunga-Mangere in December as part of a new three-man coaching staff, along with manager Mal Twiname and former All White Dave Taylor.
(Pictured, from left, Turner, Twiname and Taylor).
Beachlands-Maraetai’s playing staff and supporters quickly forged a good relationship with their Cambridge counterparts during the promotion play-off series which were played in fine spirit.
Composition of 2018 NRFL Second Division
Cambridge’s return to the Northern League means the club will compete against teams from as far away as Northland.
The Northern League fixture list has yet to be made public but Cambridge’s schedule is likely to start on Saturday March 24.
Division Two will include Franklin United, Metro, Northland, Takapuna, Papakura City, Albany United, Te Atatu, Onehunga-Mangere and newly-promoted Bucklands Beach.
Other WaiBOP-based sides in the division are Ngongotaha – who won the 2016 WaiBOP Premiership – and Hamilton’s Claudelands Rovers.
Cambridge first entered the Northern League in 1972 but were relegated in 2011 after a couple of seasons struggling to survive at that level.
The club voluntarily opted to drop two tiers of competition to rebuild its squad in the WaiBOP Federation Division Two (now known as the WaiBOP Championship).
After finishing runners-up in 2012, Cambridge were promoted to the WaiBOP Premiership.
The Reds won the Premiership title in 2015 but lost a two-game promotion series against unbeaten Auckland side Waitemata FC (who have since climbed into Division One of the Northern League).
In 2016, Cambridge were runners-up in the Premiership while winners Ngongotaha successfully earned promotion to the Northern League.