By Luke Austin
Island Bay United and Palmerston North Marist will meet in a two-game promotion play-off series to decide who will replace relegated Whanganui Athletic in next year’s Central League.
The first leg of the Central League play-off takes place at 5.30 pm this Saturday at Wellington’s Wakefield Park.
Home side Island Bay lost only twice in their Capital Premier season but finished second, one point behind the Wellington Olympic Reserves, who amassed an impressive 45 points from 18 games.
Palmerston North Marist finished first, on 35 points, in this season’s five-team Federation League, where teams played each other four times.
Island Bay will be relieved to be competing in the play-offs this year, having narrowly missed out in 2022.
A significant part of their success this year has been down to winger Tsar Mitchener’s goalscoring form. He found the back of the net 18 times in 18 Capital Premier games and will be key to their hopes of success in the play-offs.
These two sides met in the Chatham Cup last year in a game which Palmerston North Marist won 4-3 on the pitch.
However, after the match, Marist were deemed to have fielded an ineligible player, and the result was changed to a 3-0 win to Island Bay.
The signs point towards Saturday’s first leg being a tight game.
However, Island Bay will be confident they can make their home advantage count at Wakefield Park before heading to Arena Manawatu for the second leg on September 23 (5.30pm kick-off).
Games to be played on Saturday , 2023
Island Bay United v Palmerston North Marist
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 5.30pm
Luke Austin is a Wellington-based football fan and volunteer, who follows the Central League.