Cambridge’s first game in the 2021 Lotto NRFL second division has ended in a 1-0 loss to Oratia United.
The Reds fielded a young side for their opening match, giving Northern League debuts to five players, and the game was decided by a single goal at the end of the first half.
The Reds started brightly and moved the ball well despite a strong crosswind, and playing the game on an artificial turf training pitch due to ground closures.
Enjoying most of the possession, the Reds only created one clearcut chance when young Aston Hurd – making his first Northern League start – got a shot on target but was denied by the outstretched leg of a defender.
The game-changing goal came in the 42nd minute when Cambridge ‘keeper Fraser Nicholls made a fine save but the rebound fell to Oratia’s Thomas Cain.
Tevin Smith, Tom O’Leary and Oliver Haultain all came off the bench in the second half for their first Northern League appearances as Reds.
Cambridge’s best chance to level came late when flying fullback Josh Nooyen was clumsily fouled in the box when through on goal but the visitors’ appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee Chris Trent.
Head coach Paul Richardson said afterwards he felt his team had been worth a point but “that’s football and it’s on to next week.”
Lotto NRFL second division results
Onehunga Mangere United 2 (Osman Rastagar 27’, Gilberto Souza 80’ – PEN)
Fencibles United 1 (Luke Bulay 35’)
Oratia United 1 (Tom Cain 42’)
Cambridge FC 0
Papatoetoe AFC 2 (Sandip Singh 3’, KT Kanon 72’)
Greenhithe FC 1 (Own Goal 7’)
Beachlands Maraetai 0
Northland FC 0
Hibiscus Coast AFC 2 (Tyler Agiovlassitis 67’, Owenne Matapo 85’)
Claudelands Rovers 1 (Bailey Webster 48’)
Franklin United 7 (Harrison Sage 16’ Ashley Gower-Rudman 23’, Stephen Ashby-Peckham 25’, Tim Richardson 61’, Pedro Rosas Gallardo 65’, Shahil Kumar 87’, Henry Fa’arodo 89’)
Unimount Bohs 0
In the early game, Cambridge drew 1-1 with Oratia United.