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Central Auckland Soccer 2018
OMU And MAP Claim Pre-Season Football Honours
by Jeremy Ruane
Onehunga-Mangere United have made a swift return to the Lotto Northern League Second Division for 2018, six months after being relegated from the competition.

The pre-Christmas merger of the Manukau City and Mangere United clubs into Manukau United created a vacancy in the Division for the coming season, and OMU, as the eleventh place-getters in last season's competition, were invited to play Beachlands Maraetai in a two-legged promotion contest.

With the scores level at 1-1 after the first leg, there was all to play for in Sunday's second leg encounter at McLennan Park in Papakura, and at half-time the scoreboard operator hadn't been troubled.

That situation changed twenty minutes from time when long-time OMU servant David Carron broke the deadlock to put "The Mountain Men" on the verge of a swift return to Division Two.

Their place was confirmed in the dying minutes when Tom Knight headed home a cross to clinch a 2-0 win on the day - and 3-1 on aggregate - for OMU, who join fellow Central Auckland club Metro in this season's Second Division competition.

Bay Olympic, Central United, Three Kings United, newly promoted Western Springs and league and Chatham Cup double winners Onehunga Sports will represent the area in the Lotto Northern Premier League this season.
Mt. Albert-Ponsonby, the lone local side in this season's First Division competition, are targeting a Premier League place in 2019, and have shown in pre-season action that there is substance to go with their ambition.

Having downed Bay 2-1 to win the Bob Blair Memorial Trophy a week ago, on Saturday they claimed the Brian "Stan" Stanyer Memorial Trophy when overcoming Central United 4-3 on penalties, after the teams had shared six goals in an entertaining tussle.

Both Blair and, in particular, Stanyer were men who made significant contributions to MAP in past years, and their memory is maintained in these annual encounters against fellow Central Auckland teams whose cause was also well served by the individual concerned, Blair at Bay and Stanyer at Central.

Another such trophy is on the line this weekend when MAP and TKU lock horns with the John Beeney Memorial Trophy at stake, while later in the season, the Allan Smallman Memorial Trophy will be played for when Mt. Albert-Ponsonby take on Oratia United in First Division action.

The Lotto Northern League season is due to kick off on the last weekend in March, with Three Kings and Western Springs again flying the local flag in the Lotto Northern Premier Women's League competition.

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