Clarkin emerges as goal-scoring hero

Josh Clarkin clinches his hat-trick with this goal. Photo – Louis Roberts.

Teenager Josh Clarkin has emerged as Cambridge’s goalscoring hero, helping the Reds take an early lead in football’s Northern League competition.

After two rounds of games, Cambridge sit atop the second division having beaten Waikato/Bay of Plenty rivals Ngongotaha (5-2) and Hamilton’s Claudelands Rovers (5-1). This Saturday, the club hosts Aucklanders Papakura City at John Kerkhof Park.

Clarkin has scored four goals in Cambridge’s wins, notching a hat-trick in the Reds’ latest victory, a Good Friday win against Rovers. His ability to find the net follows steady progress for a young player who has played all his junior and youth football for the Cambridge club.

After being part of youth teams that won WaiBOP U-15 and U-17 regional titles, Clarkin broke into the Reds first team last season, scoring 10 goals in 11 matches and he became a regular selection. He was a member of the Cambridge U-19 squad that won the Satellite Final at the National Youth Championships in Napier last October.

A crowd of more than 500 turned up at John Kerkhof Park for the first Northern League match at the ground in six seasons as Cambridge faced Claudelands Rovers, a side now coached by former All White Mark Cossey. It was the first time in at least eight years the top teams from the clubs had met in a competition game.

Cambridge raced to a 4-0 lead by half-time with striker Dylan Blair and Clarkin both scoring two goals each. Rovers significantly improved in the second half and reduced the deficit on the hour through former national league player Bailey Webster. But Clarkin added Cambridge’s fifth goal, and his third, as the match went into added time, giving local supporters cause for jubilation.

Coach Mike Woodlock said the key to Cambridge’s win was hard work at training sessions leading into Easter when the team focussed on its organisation and structure. “I’m very pleased with the way we’re going,” he said. “Two games, two wins – you can’t do better.”

In the early game, Cambridge Reserves lost 4-1 to Claudelands Rovers. The visitors took a 2-0 lead before Jonathan Sanchez scored for Cambridge. However, Rovers finished stronger to take the points. This Saturday, the reserves face Papakura City at 12.30pm before the main game starts at 3pm.

Meanwhile, Cambridge’s WaiBOP Championship team begins its season on Saturday with a home fixture against Kawerau Sports.

The club’s women’s team plays its first match at Te Awamutu on Sunday after beating Waikato Unicol 3-1 in a pre-season friendly with goals from Sophee Rapson-Jones, Abby Cook and last year’s leading scorer Astrid Howarth.

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