By Jonno Ross
League leaders Northern Rovers should pick up a routine three points this weekend but the two teams best-placed to catch them go head-to-head.
A draw suits neither Western Springs nor Auckland United so it could be a thriller at Crum Park on Friday when they meet.
Here’s our preview of the round:
Western Springs (2nd) v Auckland United (3rd)
Crum Park 2, Auckland
With Northern Rovers expected to beat lowly Hamilton Wanderers, Western Springs and Auckland United head into this game knowing a win is essential to challenge Rovers for this season’s title.
Western Springs sit just one point ahead of their visitors this weekend, and six points off Rovers, and go into this game thinking they have a slight advantage, after beating United 1-0 in the reverse fixture.
A draw might feel like a loss for both teams as that would put Rovers a probable eight points clear at the top, and after a perfect first-round undefeated for the North Shore side, you would have to say that they would become champions-elect if that happens.
I can’t predict a winner here, but I don’t see this being a draw.
Other fixtures (with current league placings)
West Coast Rangers (5th) v Eastern Suburbs (4th)
Fred Taylor Park, Whenuapai, 3pm
Hamilton Wanderers (7th) v Northern Rovers (1st)
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, 1pm
Tauranga City (8th) v Ellerslie (6th)
Links Ave Reserve, Tauranga, 3pm
How they stand
Friends of Football writer Jonno Ross is a former New Zealand U-20 goalkeeper who is the team manager for Mount Albert Ponsonby. He supports the All Whites, the Football Ferns, the Wellington Phoenix and Arsenal.
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