By Luke Austin
With leaders Olympic continuing to run away at the top of the table, the Wellington Phoenix Reserves and Western Suburbs are beginning to consolidate their places in the top three.
This leaves the all-important fourth place up for grabs (if the Phoenix Reserves finish within the top three, the side who finishes fourth will qualify for the National League).
Napier City Rovers, Miramar Rangers and Petone all have a chance to occupy this spot if results go the right way in Round 7.
The games kick off at David Farrington Park on Saturday as Miramar Rangers defend the O’Brien Shield for a record 33rd time against Waterside Karori.
Miramar have slipped out of the top four following two away losses on the bounce and will be eager to turn things around by extending their impressive unbeaten home record.
In the other 2.30pm kick-off, Stop Out host Olympic at Hutt Park.
Stop Out’s Connor Gaul and Alex Palezevic will want to upset their former club, who cruised to a 7-0 win over North Wellington last weekend.
North Wellington look to bounce back against Petone, who recorded a fantastic last-minute win against Miramar in Round 6 and now find themselves just one point away from the top four.
On Sunday, Western Suburbs welcome Whanganui Athletic to Endeavour Park and the Phoenix Reserves travel to Napier.
Wests secured an impressive three points on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Reserves in their round 8 game that was brought forward due to the upcoming U-20 World Cup.
Wests will be confident they can extend their unbeaten start to the season at Wembley Park, while the Phoenix Reserves face a tougher challenge against Napier, who have scored 10 goals in their last two games.
Game of the week
Sunday’s clash between Napier City Rovers and the Phoenix Reserves is definitely not to be missed.
Napier’s main goal for the season is to finish in the top four and qualify for the National League.
A win against their second-place opposition would be a huge step in the right direction.
The Phoenix will be full of intensity as they look to bounce back from their midweek loss at home to Wests.
This game will be live-streamed in the NZ Football YouTube channel (see below).
Player to watch
Western Suburbs’ Ryan Feutz has been in fantastic form this season and finds himself at the top of the Golden Boot leaderboard, with seven goals in as many games.
Feutz (21) began his senior career at Suburbs before having stints with Auckland’s Eastern Suburbs, Swedish club Torslanda IK, Miramar Rangers and Wellington Olympic. It would be no surprise to see him find the back of the net again this week against Whanganui Athletic.
Sunday’s clash is arguably the biggest game of the season for the Rovers so far, and the team and supporters will be fired up.
I’m predicting the home crowd will carry Napier to a narrow win.
Games to be played on Saturday May 6, 2023
Miramar Rangers v Waterside Karori
David Farrington Park, Miramar, 2.30pm
Stop Out v Wellington Olympic
Hutt Park, Wellington, 2.30pm
North Wellington v Petone,
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville, 3pm
Games to be played on Sunday May 7, 2023
Napier City Rovers v Wellington Phoenix Reserves
Bluewater Stadium, Napier, 2pm
Western Suburbs v Whanganui Athletic
Endeavour Park, Whitby, 2pm
Luke Austin is a Wellington-based football fan and volunteer, who plays for Island Bay, and follows the Central League.