Olympic slip-up provides opportunity for Central League rivals to gain ground

posted in: Central League, News

By Luke Austin

Round 8 of the Central League kicks off at Wakefield Park with a heavyweight clash between Wellington Olympic and Napier City Rovers.

Both sides will look to bounce back following disappointing losses in Round 7.

Olympic were on the wrong end of the upset of the season so far when they were beaten 3-2 by Stop Out at Hutt Park.

This was the first time the defending champions dropped points this season and means they are now tied on points with the Phoenix Reserves and Western Suburbs, although they do have a game in hand.

Napier played well against the Phoenix last time out but ultimately came away with nothing as they conceded a last-minute winner.

This result saw Napier drop out of the top four and they will know a big result is needed to avoid slipping further down the ladder.

The action continues with another game between two sides that lost in Round 7 as Whanganui Athletic host Miramar Rangers.

Whanganui conceded seven second-half goals to lose 7-1 to Western Suburbs while Miramar were beaten 4-3 by Karori.

Whanganui remain without a point and face the prospect of a long and painful season unless they can turn their form around.

Fellow strugglers North Wellington host Stop Out, who will be full of confidence following their huge win over Olympic last round.

The newly promoted side has made an impressive start to the season and now find themselves only two points behind the top four.

In the final game of the round, newly-crowned O’Brien Shield holders Waterside Karori travel to Petone hoping to build on their thrilling 4-3 win at Miramar.

Petone continue to impress as they thrashed North Wellington last time out and now find themselves in the highly coveted fourth place.

The Phoenix Reserves and Western Suburbs played their Round 8 game on May 5, with Wests coming away with a 1-0 win.

Game of the week

The opening game of the round between Wellington Olympic and Napier City Rovers should be a cracker.

Olympic can regain their three-point lead at the top of the table with a victory but will have to find a way to beat a quality Napier side without their captain Ben Mata and fellow defender Joe Hopper, who will both be suspended following red cards in Round 7.

Napier have it all to play for, knowing a loss or draw will likely see them overtaken by Stop Out and Miramar who are favourites to win their games this weekend.

Player to watch

New Napier City Rovers signing Stefan Karajovanovic made his debut for the club again the Phoenix Reserves.

The Canadian previously played for Toronto FC II in the MLS Next Pro and has also featured in the Canadian Premier League.

He will be one to keep an eye on as Napier take on Wellington Olympic in NZ Football’s feature live-streamed match.

Bold prediction

While the Olympic v Napier game is my pick of the round, the meeting between Petone and Karori will also warrant close attention.

I predict a high-scoring game and a narrow win for Petone, with their in-form striker Matthew Brazier finding the back of the net.

Games to be played on Saturday May 20, 2023

Wellington Olympic v Napier City Rovers
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 1.45pm

Whanganui Athletic v Miramar Rangers
Wembley Park, Whanganui, 2.30pm

North Wellington v Stop Out
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville, 3pm

Petone v Waterside Karori
Petone Memorial Park, Petone, 3.30pm

Luke Austin

Luke Austin is a Wellington-based football fan and volunteer, who plays for Island Bay, and follows the Central League.

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