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The side overcame a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 at Forrester Park, beating the side which had been tied on points on top of the table.
Northern has been through the mire in the past couple of years. It did not win a game in 2019 and then lost 20-0 in a match in July last year.
That loss led to a parting of the ways between the club and coach Luiz Uehara. Arran Wilkinson took over as coach — he had coached the team before — and slowly the side has improved. It lost 6-1 in the opening-round fixture to University so has turned that around to win.
Its previous win was in the 2018 season but the side had already played out a 3-3 draw with defending champion Green Island in March.
Northern will get a chance to get off the bottom of the table when it plays second-bottom Mosgiel on Wednesday night.
Northern turned up with plenty of passion and self- belief.
The students lost Ben Stanley to a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on 25 minutes. But two minutes later the team went ahead as Tom Stewart spotted goalkeeper Liam Little off his line and lofted a sublime effort over his head for a deserved lead on 27 minutes.
Northern had the wind behind it in the second half and soon equalised when Al Al Muwali was brought down in the box by Tim O'Farrell.
Youngster Rory Hibbert confidently slotted the penalty in the 48th minute.
Northern’s Harry Fraser was having an influential impact in the game and his ability to hold the ball up meant Neil Achary had to be alert to deny him.
With just over 10 minutes left, another Fraser run through the students’ defence resulted in his diagonal pass finding Seamus Gray and his angled shot from the right flank slammed into the net.
Northern’s Matt Johnstone was resolute in defence to ensure the students were kept at bay to secure the overdue win.
University’s defeat allowed the South City Royals to claim outright top spot with a workmanlike 2-0 win over Queenstown.
Kaleb de Groot-Green headed in the opener on 32 minutes and the game was safe for the Royals when Queenstown’s Cohen Nash scored an own goal on the 58th minute.
Roslyn-Wakari reclaimed the Blair Davidson trophy and jumped into third spot with a hard fought 2-1 victory over Green Island.
The opening goal came in the 51st minute when a diagonal run from Sam Cosgrove led to a penalty.
Justin Wiechens stepped up and converted from the spot.
Green Island responded shortly afterwards when Cam Anderson floated a cross from the right and Adam Hewson volleyed home.
Cosgrove found himself on the end of a through ball and shot through the legs of Schaffer-Swann with 20 minutes left.
Mosgiel lost at home to Wanaka 3-1 which left the Mosgiel side winless after seven games.
- Neville Watson