Western Suburbs are one win away from the Central League title after Wairarapa United’s shock loss to Team Taranaki.
Western Suburbs now lead by seven points and need only to beat bottom-placed Palmerston North Marist next Sunday at Endeavour Park to secure the title.
That was after they beat Lower Hutt City 3-0 on Saturday at Fraser Park thanks to a double from Callum McCowatt and a cracking Owen Parker-Price goal.
Wairarapa needed to win at Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth on Sunday to remain four points behind Wests with three games to go, but lost 4-2 against a side coming into the round in second-last position and with just one win in their last 10 games.
But Taranaki defied the form book, going up 3-0 by halftime after goals from Dom Squatriti, Jeremy Hill and Vance Hoskin. They stuttered midway through the second half when goals to Paul Ifill and Cory Chettleburgh pulled Wairarapa back into the contest, but a final Taranaki goal from Squatriti just before fulltime secured the win.
The result had ramifications at both ends of the ladder.
Palmerston North now look destined for the drop. They were up 2-1 against Wellington Olympic at halftime at Memorial Park on Saturday, but lost 4-2 after Olympic’s Mario Barcia nabbed a brace.
That all-but ensured Olympic’s Central League survival and pushed Marist further toward exile. Taranaki are still going through the protest avenues regarding the fielding of an ineligible player in their first game of the season, but even if they do lose three points they will still be five points clear of Marist. Lower Hutt are also five points clear and it’s hard to see Marist picking up many points from their final three matches against Wests, Wairarapa and Wellington United.
The jostling for mid-table spots saw Wellington United beat Napier City Rovers 2-1 at Newtown Park.
Jack-Henry Sinclair had the hosts up early on, but Napier’s goal-scoring juggernaut Angus Kilkolly got them level three minutes into the second half. It was then left to 15-year-old Oskar van Hattum to score the winner for Wellington, applying a cool finish from the middle of the box with seven minutes to go.
Stop Out’s match against Miramar Rangers was postponed to August 5 because of a water-logged Hutt Park pitch.
Central League results
Western Suburbs 3 (Callum McCowatt 2, Owen Parker-Price) Lower Hutt City 0
Team Taranaki 4 Wairarapa United 2
Wellington Olympic 4 Palmerston North Marist 2
Wellington United 2 Napier City Rovers 1
Stop Out v Miramar Rangers postponed to August 5
Standings: Western Suburbs 38, Wairarapa 31, Stop Out 26*, Wellington United 23, NCR 20, Miramar 17*, Taranaki 17, Olympic 16, LHC 14, PNM 9. *game in hand