After six seasons out of the competition, Cambridge fans can be satisfied with the Reds’ mid-table finish in football’s Northern League. The club secured 7th place in the 12-team second division in its return season, creating the platform for improvement next year.
The side lost their final fixture of the season 2-0 to champions Takapuna on Saturday. The sides battled out a scoreless first half before Takapuna’s Ben Allan broke the deadlock in the 54th minute. Matthew Chant made sure of the win with his side’s second goal, seven minutes from full-time.
It was a double blow because earlier in the day, the Reds reserves lost the curtain-raiser 6-2 in a match that decided the Lotto NRFL reserves competition.
Going into the match at Taharoto Park, Cambridge knew only a win was good enough to pip the Aucklanders for the title. They got off to a great start, taking an early lead through striker Adam Brady.
However, Takapuna levelled from the penalty spot in added time of the first half, sending the teams into the interval tied at one all. Within minutes of the second half starting, Takapuna took the lead for the first time and then quickly added goals three and four.
Knowing they needed at least four goals to secure the title, Cambridge threw themselves forward and youngster Jack Sickelmore reduced Takapuna’s lead to 4-2. The home side had the final say, scoring twice late in the game to ensure Takapuna could boast the reserves title to go with the second division trophy their first team had already clinched last month.
Meanwhile, the Cambridge D1s beat Tokoroa 6-2 at John Kerkhof Park to end their season on a high. Goals from Peter Buesnel (4), Dave O’Donnell and Tony Dikmans (penalty) saw Cambridge coast to a comfortable win. Goalkeeper Paul McCann saved a penalty.
The win kept alive the team’s hopes of winning the divisional title but only until news filtered through from Te Aroha where home side Cobras had taken the title with a 1-0 win against Cambridge D2s.
The Cambridge women did not play on the weekend but will wrap up their league schedule with a match against Matamata Swifts on Sunday.
The team has already clinched second spot in the competition, as well as being runners-up in the Waikato Women’s Cup, but are looking to finish with a win as a tribute to veteran goalkeeper Jen Hull. Hull joined Cambridge seven seasons ago, from Matamata, and has since played more than 120 times for the club, appearing in four cup finals and captaining the side for the past two seasons.
Hull – known to all and sundry as ‘Stoney’ – has decided to call an end to her football career this season.