Cambridge go into their final month of football’s Northern League with a realistic chance of achieving their highest ranking since 2002.
With four matches to go in their Lotto NRFL second division programme, the Reds sit fifth but are shooting for their best finish since taking third spot 17 seasons ago.
Cambridge finished fifth in 2004, 2006 and 2007 so the Reds will look to improve on that, starting with a win this weekend against relegation-threatened Northland FC.
Northland play Cambridge at John Kerkhof Park at 3pm on Saturday, with their reserves teams playing a curtain-raiser at 12.30pm.
Northland almost caused a huge upset last weekend when leading second-placed Metro FC 1-0 until the Aucklanders snatched an equaliser six minutes into added time.
Cambridge took all three points when they beat Onehunga Mangere 1-0.
Leading scorer Josh Clarkin scored the winner after only four minutes – it was his 11th league and cup goal of the season.
After that, the Cambridge defence shut out the Aucklanders for their fourth clean sheet of the season.
Cambridge remain fifth on the table but are unlikely to catch league leaders Claudelands Rovers – who lost 4-1 to third-placed Manurewa – and Metro FC.
In the early game on Mangere Mountain, a first-half goal by Onehunga Mangere’s Max Kwan was all that separated the Auckland side and Cambridge’s reserves.
In recent games, Cambridge have shown a much-improved resistance in defence, conceding only four times in their last three outings.
But the Reds’ second-stringers have lost their scoring touch and it proved costly at Mangere Domain.
In the WaiBOP Championship, Cambridge’s third team lost 3-0 at competition leaders Otorohanga, after the home side took a 1-0 lead into half-time.
Otorohanga’s goals came from Joe Camock, Nathaneal Wrack and Jack Connor.
The result brought a halt to Cambridge’s climb into midtable but the side gets its chance to regain winning form when Taupo FC come to John Kerkhof Park on Saturday (2.45pm).
In Waikato Division 3, Cambridge lost 3-1 to Melville United’s Old Boys at Gower Park after trailing 1-0 at the break.
Playing in trying conditions, Cambridge produced a much-improved performance after a heavy loss the previous week.
Scorer for Cambridge was Matthias Nickless who found the net for the first time this season.
In Waikato Division 4, Cambridge lost 4-1 at home to West Ham United’s Floppy Noodles with all the goals being scored in the first half.
Though Cambridge had a few early chances, the Hamilton visitors made the most of their opportunities and raced to a 4-0 lead within half an hour.
Cambridge found a goal of their own through Andrew Myers, his third of the season, as half-time approached.
The second half was even and hard-fought but neither team could find another goal. The result leaves Cambridge in mid-table.
Meanwhile, Cambridge has again been chosen to host WaiBOP Football’s Waikato Finals Weekend`, which will be on August 24-25.
On August 24 John Kerkhof Park will be the venue for the final of the Waikato Cup between Melville United and Huntly Thistle, and the Plate final between Hamilton Wanderers and Otorohanga.
On August 25, Cambridge will host the finals of the Waikato Women’s Cup and Plate. The finalists for those competitions will be known after semi-finals on Sunday.
It’s the fourth time in six years that Cambridge has been trusted to host the region’s cup finals, with 800-1,000 spectators attending past events.