Northland FC went down 1-0 to a spirited Metro side on Saturday in the Lotto NRFL Division Two at Tikipunga.

A sunny winter afternoon set the scene for the clash, with the pitch holding up in spite of all the adverse weather over the last week.

The visitors set themselves up in a 3-4-3 formation, which the boys in blue struggled to get to grips with throughout, and the first half saw little in the way of goalmouth action at either end as both teams struggled to find the requisite quality in the final third.

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Northland found their usual rhythm disrupted by the different shape of the opposition, but did not help themselves by giving the ball away cheaply and found themselves exposed from a quick counter in the 55th minute.

Josh Dayal had the freedom of Tikipunga as he broke through a high defensive line to slot under Shane Stanners and land a decisive blow.

The hosts had a few opportunities as they searched for an equaliser, with Kyle Levell firing straight at the goalkeeper in a one on one and Finn Diamond nearly restoring parity with a spectacular effort, but it was ultimately not going to be their day and Dayal's goal remained the difference at the full time whistle.

Head coach Dan Johnston said finishing cost his charges but they worked tirelessly.

"I can't fault the effort of the boys, but unfortunately we were just lacking that little bit of quality today," he said.

"It didn't help that we were a little light on numbers, missing Jonny (Fletcher) through suspension and Caleb (Russ) who has gone to the States for the summer."

Northland visit runaway league leaders Takapuna next week at Taharoto Park.