Striker Josh Clarkin inspired Cambridge to a remarkable 5-2 win against Beachlands Maraetai with four goals in a thrilling second half at John Kerkhof Park.
Clarkin, who was last season’s top scorer for the Reds, was playing his first full game for Cambridge since re-joining the club after a spell with Hamilton Wanderers.
And he struck with a vengeance, finding the net in the 59th, 62nd, 82nd and 90th minutes, spearheading a fightback from the Reds who went into half-time trailing 2-0 to the Aucklanders who sat third on the Lotto NRFL second division table as one of the fast-improving sides in the competition.
Cambridge had found it difficult to assert themselves in the first half but came out firing in the second.
The team’s other Josh – winger Josh Nooijen – clawed a goal back three minutes after the break to give home supporters hope of a revival.
Then it became the Clarkin show, with two goals in a three-minute spell followed by a late penalty.
Beachlands Maraetai did not help their cause when losing Ben Culpan to a second yellow card as full time approached and Cambridge ruthlessly punished them with a fifth goal from Clarkin.
The Reds’ next game is against Oratia United at John Kerkof Park on Saturday June 26 (3pm).
Main photo: Cambridge’s Jason Khatkar (2) challenges for possession. Image: Louis Roberts.
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Second division results
Cambridge 5, Beachlands Maraetai 2
Northland 2 Franklin United 4
Hibiscus Coast 0, Fencibles United 0
Claudelands Rovers 4, Greenhithe Catimba 2
Papatoetoe 1, Oratia United 1
UniMount Bohemian Celtic 0, Onehunga Mangere United 1
In the early game, Cambridge U-23s lost 3-1 to Beachlands Maraetai U-23s.