Cambridge were held to a 2-2 draw by a Onehunga Mangere side desperate to salvage a point in their fight to avoid relegation from the Lotto NRFL second division.
While the Reds look likely to finish in fifth spot on the ladder, the Aucklanders needed to stay ahead of Northland FC as one of them will join Ngongotaha in the drop to a lower division.
Onehunga Mangere helped their case by taking a 6th minute lead through Matthew Metzger.
The Reds worked their way back into the game with an equaliser from in-form Josh Clarkin, his 13th goal of the season and his fifth in as many games.
That’s how the teams went into half-time.
The visitors came out strongly and took a lead three minutes into the second spell through Rinai Prasad.
Cambridge have shown much resilience this season, fighting back when trailing, and winger Luke Stephenson came up with the Reds’ second goal after 59 minutes.
The goal was Stephenson’s fifth first team goal this year, marking his improvement since arriving from England last summer.
In the end, the point will not make a great deal of difference to Cambridge’s final standing in this year’s competition, while the draw may well have thrown a lifeline to the Aucklanders.
In other results, Claudelands Rovers lost a crucial game to high-flying Manurewa which saw the Hamilton club drop to fourth on the table.
With two rounds to go, it now seems likely Rovers will join Cambridge in the second division next year while the two promotion places are being fought out by Manurewa, Metro and Albany United.
Cambridge could play a key part in the promotion outcome as the Reds play Manurewa next week and then Metro in their last game of the season (August 31).
The Reds’ next game is on Saturday August 24 (3pm) when they visit Manurewa in Auckland.
Today’s matchday sponsor
These images of today’s match are courtesy of our club’s official photographer, Louis Roberts:
Lotto NRFL second division results
Cambridge FC 2 (Josh Clarkin 26’, Luke Stephenson 59’)
Onehunga Mangere United 2 (Matt Metzger 6’, Rinal Prasad 48’)
Oratia United 1 (Michael Graham 14’)
Albany United 2 (Damien Mosquera 39’, Jack Beguely 88’)
Franklin United 2 (Shameel Rao 69’, Jake McCoy 81’)
Uni-Mount Bohemian Celtic 2 (Own Goal 10’, Sean Patterson 90+3’)
Claudelands Rovers 2 (Bailey Webster 68’, Jono Viviani 71’)
Manurewa AFC 3 (Dylan Laing-McConnell 41’, Kieran Nevey 65’ – PEN, Philip Paul 75’)
Metro FC 2 (Mario Aroca 6′, 50′)
Northland FC 0
Cambridge beat Onehunga Mangere reserves 3-2 in the early game.