By Luke Austin
In the first of three Saturday games, Miramar Rangers host Petone at David Farrington Park.
Petone, who stunned leaders Olympic 4-0 in round 14, were brought back down to earth last Saturday as they fell to a 2-1 loss to Stop Out in a game postponed from earlier in the season.
This result has seen Stop Out leapfrog Miramar and Waterside Karori and surge into sixth place.
They now play the Wellington Phoenix Reserves at home, and another positive result could see them make a real push at fourth place in the final rounds of the season.
The Phoenix failed to take advantage of Olympic’s loss as they fell to a surprise 3-2 defeat to North Wellington in round 14 and will be eager to bounce back with a win at Hutt Park.
In the final Saturday game, Olympic travel to Alex Moore Park to take on North Wellington.
Olympic need a big win to help move on from the disappointment of their heavy defeat to Petone and elimination from the Chatham Cup at the hands of Eastern Suburbs.
Sunday’s fixtures see Western Suburbs host Karori and Whanganui travel to face Napier City Rovers.
Wests are lucky to remain in fourth after losing three in a row and they desperately need to turn around their form to cling to their hopes of National League qualification.
Napier, now in third place, are in excellent form and will be confident they can extend their winning streak against a Whanganui Athletic side who appear destined for relegation.
Game of the week
Sunday’s meeting between Wests and Karori looks set to be another close encounter.
The sides have met twice already this season; the first ending in a 2-2 draw in the league and the second a narrow extra-time win for Karori in the Chatham Cup.
Wharfies have been inconsistent in the league but there will be a confident buzz around the club, given they have reached the semi-finals of the Chatham Cup.
Can Wests turn around their poor form and secure an important win, or will Karori get the better of them once again?
Player to watch
Young Petone winger Ashnarvy Mustapha has been in great form recently, recording two highlight-reel-worthy assists against Olympic and then finding the back of the net against Stop Out last weekend.
Keep an eye on his explosive pace and impressive vision at David Farrington Park this Saturday as Petone take on Miramar Rangers.
The former North Wellington player will have double reasons to celebrate if he scores on Saturday — it’s his 19th birthday.
Several of the Phoenix Reserves players were training with the first team ahead of their Australia Cup round of 32 tie against Peninsula Power this Friday.
This may mean the Reserves will field a young and inexperienced team against Stop Out on Saturday (like they did against North Wellington in round 14).
A muddy Hutt Park will favour the home side, so I’m predicting Stop Out may cause the Phoenix Reserves some problems and come away with a surprise win.
Games to be played on Saturday August 5, 2023
Miramar Rangers v Petone
David Farrington Park, Miramar, 2.30pm
Stop Out v Wellington Phoenix Reserves
Hutt Park, Lower Hutt, 2.30pm
North Wellington v Wellington Olympic
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville, 3pm
Games to be played on Sunday August 6, 2023
Napier City Rovers v Whanganui Athletic
Bluewater Stadium, Napier, 2pm
Western Suburbs v Waterside Karori
Endeavour Park, Whitby, 2pm
Luke Austin is a Wellington-based football fan and volunteer, who plays for Island Bay, and follows the Central League.