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Rivals hurtle toward derby day collision

– The fiercest rivalry in the NZFC will be renewed at Fred Taylor Park this Saturday as old foes Waitakere United host unbeaten Auckland City in a top of the table derby clash. Waitakere were edged 2-1 at Kiwitea Street in Week 5 and will be desperate for a win that will hand them a psychological boost as the season enters a crucial juncture. Auckland City – level on points with Waitakere but with two games in hand – can afford a slip-up but will be in no mood to lose the momentum they have built up since the start of the season.
– YoungHeart Manawatu returns to Memorial Park hoping for a return to winning ways after three consecutive losses. Manawatu is boosted by the return of Colin Falvey but will be without Scott Robson, who celebrated his 50th NZFC career appearance against Team Wellington two weeks ago. Ironically, Manawatu face a Waikato FC side buoyed by its first win in six matches, making the visitors the form team. The signing of former All White Jeff Campbell sees the Waikato squad with a spring in its step and they could yet have a say in the shape of the top four play-off berths.
– Third placed Otago United are on a high after last week’s 1-0 win over Hawke’s Bay United but will be cautious of a Team Wellington that was on a roll up until their loss to Auckland City on Sunday. The eye-catching form of Greg Draper could hand Wellington an edge with the former Phoenix front man rattling in six goals in the last three NZFC games. Victory for Otago – and wins for Canterbury and Waikato – could see Malcolm Fleming’s side consolidate their place in the play-offs and open up a sizeable gap between themselves and the also rans. Dave Shaw and Harley Rodeka are on standby for Otago as the home side sweat on the fitness of Dan Ede and Nathan Knox.
– Canterbury got a rude shock in Ngaruawahia last week and will be gunning for a quick return to form when they visit Hawke’s Bay United, Both teams meet off the back of disappointing results with the home side desperate to hang onto their flickering play-off hopes. Jonathon Taylor returns from suspension to help boost Bay’s fortunes while the experienced Gareth Rowe – a former Hawke’s Bay favourite – misses out on an emotional homecoming after being omitted from the squad. Defeat for seventh placed Hawke’s Bay could cut them adrift from play-off contention while a Canterbury win will keep them firmly in the race for a top four slot.
– The Lion Foundation Men’s National Youth League continues with last season’s finalists Waitakere United and Auckland City facing off at Fred Taylor Park at 5pm. Fans will be eager to witness a repeat of the goal fest served up at Trust Stadium last March when Auckland lifted the title with a 6-4 extra time victory. Hawke’s Bay United host Auckland-Manukau at Park Island on Sunday at 11.00am with the home side facing an opponent fresh from an opening day 3-1 win over Waikato FC. Waikato FC receives the bye for round two.
Story and photo NZFC.

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