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Who wants to be a premier?

Mount Albert Ponsonby 0, Manurewa 1
Anderson Park, Auckland, August 8 2016

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The battle for promotion to the NRFL Premier Division is going right down to the wire after Mount Albert Ponsonby spurned their chance to wrap it up for themselves on their home ground today…

A couple of months ago I promised Nick Snedden that I would cover MAP’s clash with Waitakere City at Anderson Park on the 2nd of July… Then I completely forgot about it and ended up going to Mangere vs Ellerslie instead. Oops! And to rub salt into the wound, due to the fact that the vast majority of the games played here are under lights, when I can’t take decent photos to save myself, it has taken until now for me to get the opportunity to rectify my blunder.

But I didn’t just come here out of guilt! Not only is Anderson Park a favourite venue of mine for sentimental reasons but, with second vs third on the Division 1 table going head to head in the penultimate round of the season, this was also arguably the fixture of the day right across the three divisions – and it didn’t disappoint.

MAP started the first half the stronger of the two sides, creating chances and looking assured, but as the half wore on Manurewa grew stronger and stronger until a few minutes before half time when the referee awarded a free kick to the visitors within range.

Rudolf Mozer struck it beautifully, it brushed the fingertips of MAP keeper Mackenzie Waite, ricocheted off the underside of the crossbar, and appeared to cross the line before bouncing back out into open play with no goal awarded. Fortuitously for Rewa, Richard Beeston was on hand. He pounced on the scraps and drove home to send his side into the sheds with a narrow but deserved advantage.

The second half got underway with two big MAP penalty shouts waved away by the ref, which only added to the home side’s frustration as they felt as though they weren’t getting any breaks at all out of this game and this led to things getting more and more niggly the longer the afternoon wore on.

There were opportunities to score at both ends during the second half as MAP tried furiously to get things back on level terms while Rewa looked to exploit the opportunities this created on the counter. This made for a rather exciting finish to the game but for all the pressure MAP were able to apply, Rewa’s defence was equal to it and the game finished with the visitors beaming with satisfaction and the home side wondering if they had blown their chance.

It’s starting to feel a bit like nobody apart from Waitakere City really wants to move forward into the top flight after Metro, North Shore and now MAP have all given up their box seat positions over the past couple of months. Manurewa are the latest team to occupy second place with only one round left to play, but their tenure could be the shortest lived yet.

If MAP defeats relegation threatened Papakura at McLennan Park next week, promotion will be decided on 10 September at Memorial Park where Rewa will have to achieve the tall order of stopping Waitakere City from completing an unbeaten season.

What a game that will be!

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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