Third placed Otago United extended the gap between themselves and the pack to four points and may now be eyeing a return to the NZFC play-offs for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
Waikato FC meanwhile climbed off the bottom of the table and into seventh place on 9 points with a come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Youngheart Manawatu in Palmerston North. Hawke’s Bay United’s match with Canterbury United was postponed due to a waterlogged and unplayable pitch.
On Saturday, leaders Auckland City and Waitakere United fought out an exciting 1-1 draw before a bumper crowd of 2,238 at Fred Taylor Park in Whenuapai. Both teams remain locked on 20 points, but Auckland still has two games in hand on their rivals and a superior goal difference.
At Carisbrook, Team Wellington took an early 1-0 lead courtesy of a Chris Davies header after just three minutes. Otago bounced back when a Ben Light snapshot levelled the scores on the half hour mark.
Team Wellington were hit by a sucker-punch two minutes into time added on when a long pass by Rhys Henderson found Dave Dugdale who provided a neat finish to give Otago a 2-1 halftime advantage. Ben Light put the game beyond the visitors with Otago’s third goal – and his second – in the 48th minute.
YoungHeart Manawatu were on course to consolidate fourth spot and add a little breathing room between themselves and Canterbury after a Daniel Benson screamer and a Seule Soromon chip pushed them two goals ahead of Waikato FC.
But a goal from transfer window signing Jeff Campbell four minutes after the break began a 25 minute goal-rush from Waikato, with Campbell equalising in the 69th minute and Michael Gwyther giving the visitors a 70th minute lead during a horror sixty seconds for the home team.
At Fred Taylor Park, Chad Coombes scored after 51 minutes as Auckland City secured a valuable point at Waitakere that stretched their unbeaten run to eight NZFC matches.
Waitakere defender Tim Myers pulled a goal back with 70 minutes played, but the hosts were forced to endure a Ryan de Vries close range miss with eight minutes left. Both sides spurned gilt edged opportunities to claim victory and thus ensured the points were shared.
Hawke’s Bay United’s match with Canterbury United was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch that was deemed unplayable by match officials. The match will be rescheduled for a future date.
Next week’s fixtures see fifth placed Canterbury United host YoungHeart Manawatu in Christchurch with just 1 point separating the two teams. Canterbury now has one game in hand on their sixth placed rivals.
Fourth placed Team Wellington and Hawke’s Bay United will be eager to regain lost ground in the play-off chase when the capital men host bottom-placed Hawke’s Bay at Newtown Park.
Auckland City pays a visit to Waikato FC’s Centennial Park looking to extend their unbeaten streak while the hosts will be chasing their third NZFC win in a row. Otago United travel north to play second place Waitakere United.
Story courtesy NZF Media
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