Wairarapa United and Western Suburbs have pulled away from their Central League rivals with crucial wins on Saturday.
Wairarapa were without talismanic star Paul Ifill, but beat Stop Out 4-1 to move to 21 points at the midway point of the season. Wests remained one point behind thanks to a strong second half performance in their 3-2 win over Miramar Rangers. That result saw a six-point gap open up to third-placed Stop Out.
In front of a good crowd at David Farrington Park, Wests opened the scoring 15 minutes in when Dom Wooldridge nodded in a looping cross.
Miramar proceeded to dominate the next half hour. Their expansive, fast-break play down the wings stretched Wests badly and it was no surprise when Niko Kirwan drew the home side level after 31 minutes from the penalty spot.
Wests weren’t lying down though. A quick break from them in the 33rd minute and some superb running through midfield was capped off by a crisply chipped ball from the left leaving Elijah Just, who had a hand in starting the move in midfield, the easiest of tap-in headers at the back post.
The goals kept coming. Andy Bevin the next on the scoreboard, firing home a delightful Tom Jackson cross from the right to bring the home side back level just before halftime.
Shortly after the break Declan Edge made a change for Wests, withdrawing defender Blake Jones and replacing him with midfielder Michael Faber. Whether it was this tactical shift, or his halftime talk, the second half was all Western Suburbs.
At times they cut through the Miramar midfield like the proverbial hot knife through butter. Miramar were unable to live with the quick passing and movement of Owen Parker-Price and Just.
Just in particular put on a masterclass including the winning goal in the 62nd minute.
Men’s Central League
Western Suburbs 3 (Elijah Just 2, Dom Wooldridge) Miramar Rangers 2 (Andy Bevin, Niko Kirwan)
Wairarapa United 4 Stop Out 1
Lower Hutt City 0 Team Taranaki 0
Palmerston North Marist 1 Wellington United 1
Napier City Rovers 4 Wellington Olympic 1
Standings: Wairarapa 21, Wests 20, Stop Out 14, United 14, Miramar 13, NCR 11, Taranaki 11, Olympic 10, Lower Hutt 8, PNM 3
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