Northland FC 0 V 0 Bucklands Beach AFC
At Tikipunga Sports Par
Northland FC ensured that they remain in charge of their own fate with a spirited performance in a 0-0 draw against Lotto NRFL Division Two runners-up Bucklands Beach on Saturday.
The rescheduled match, following an abandonment earlier in the season due to a serious injury, was played out in front of a good crowd at Tikipunga Sports Park and while chances were at a premium, the game was played at a fast pace with the hosts knowing what was at stake.
The first half saw the boys in blue probe for an opening, only to be denied by the excellent Mohammed Hanif in the visitors' goal. Brett Plant had the pick of the first half chances, finding himself with time and space in the penalty area and striking a vicious drive that Hanif tipped over the bar.
It was a classic case of two teams cancelling each other out, although Bucklands hit the bar from a corner late in the half but the rebound bounced into Shane Stanners' arms.
The second half started the same as the first, with Northland making inroads into the Bucklands Beach half.
Plant had another half chance but was denied once again by Hanif with a superb reaction save after the FC Whangārei winger had directed a first time volley back across the goal.
The game petered out in the late stages with the knowledge that a point would leave Northland in the driver's seat going in to the season's final weekend.
Head coach Dan Johnston said" "We'll take the point and second clean sheet in a row but are a bit disappointed we couldn't seal the deal today. We must make sure that we guard against any complacency in the last game because we are not safe yet.
"Te Atatu are going to come at us and give it everything, they know what they need to do to stay in this league. It's been a long hard season and we have faced numerous challenges as a squad but I'm confident we will learn from it and come back stronger."
Northland FC lie ninth on the table and face Te Atatu next week at Tikipunga. Northland will stay in the Lotto NRFL in 2019 if they manage to avoid defeat by less than six goals.