PREVIEW: Western Suburbs and Miramar Rangers away to flying starts

posted in: Central League, News

By Luke Austin

A goal-filled opening round has given fans an early indication that Western Suburbs and Miramar Rangers have joined defending champions Wellington Olympic as the teams to beat in the 2024 Central League.

Early leaders Wests take on the Greeks in Sunday’s game which could shape the early stages of the season.

Round 2 begins on Saturday with Stop Out hosting North Wellington at Hutt Park. Both sides will see this as a golden opportunity to earn valuable points and bounce back from losses in round 1.

READ MORE: Results from opening round of Central League >>>>

Napier embark on their first away trip to Wellington as they face Waterside Karori at Martin Luckie Park.

The Blues looked promising in round 1 but conceded two late goals to go down 3-0 to Olympic. They need to kickstart their campaign with a win in the capital.

The Phoenix Reserves host Petone and will be anxious to quickly settle their largely-new squad after their 4-0 defeat to Miramar Rangers in round 1.

READ MORE: ‘Sky’s the limit’ for new-look Phoenix reserves, says coach Chris Greenacre >>>>

Rangers … off to a flying start in the new season. Photo credit: Miramar Rangers AFC.

With Andy Bevin making his 100th first team appearance for Rangers, it was the ideal start to a new season in which the club has brought in seven players with Northern League experience.

READ MORE: Central League — our round-up of new signings and summer departures >>>>

Another team who suffered a heavy defeat last weekend was Island Bay United.

The newly-promoted team faced a rough introduction to Central League football as they were taken apart 7-1 by Western Suburbs.

Things do not get any easier for the Bay as they welcome an impressive-looking Miramar outfit to Wakefield Park.

Game of the week

After their big opening round win, Western Suburbs travel to Wakefield Park for a second week to face a real test of their abilities against Wellington Olympic.

Another win for Wests would make a huge statement to the rest of the league and would see Olympic on the back foot early in the season, something the Greeks are not used to.

With all their talent and experience, Olympic should still be slight favourites but the stage is set for a close and exciting game.

Match programme

READ: Wellington Olympic’s programme for match against Western Suburbs >>>>

Lucas Meek … could be the Central League signing of the year. Photo credit: Inter Miami.

Player to watch

In what already looks like a major coup, Western Suburbs have signed American forward Lucas Meek from MLS club Inter Miami.

He featured for the reserve side in the MLS Next Pro but was signed on a short-term deal with the first team in 2023.

Before joining Inter Miami, Meek played five seasons for the University of Washington’s Huskies, scoring 26 goals and making 21 assists in his 68 appearances.

Meek (25) made his New Zealand competitive debut for Wests against Island Bay and scored four first-half goals before being substituted in the second half.

He is one to keep an eye on not onyl as he takes on the defending champions Olympic this Sunday but for the rest of the season!

Bold prediction

The young Phoenix Reserves squad were comfortably beaten by Miramar last weekend, and after losing many of their more experienced players, it looks as if the new phase of players may take a few games to settle into the demanding nature of the Central League.

This week’s opponents, Petone, will be confident following their comeback win over local rivals Stop Out, and I’m predicting they can take advantage of the Phoenix’s inexperience and come away with a victory.

Who’s played for who

Still catching up on summer moves between clubs? Here’s our round-up of first round squads in the Central League.

Squad lists: Who played for who in Central League’s opening round >>>>


Games to be played on Saturday April 6, 2024

Stop Out v North Wellington
Hutt Park, Lower Hutt, 2.30pm

Waterside Karori v Napier City Rovers
Martin Luckie Park, Wellington, 2.30pm

Wellington Phoenix Res v Petone
Fraser Park, Lower Hutt, 3pm

Island Bay United v Miramar Rangers
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 3.30pm

READ: Island Bay United’s programme for match against Miramar Rangers >>>>

Games to be played on Sunday April 7, 2024

Wellington Olympic v Western Suburbs
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 3pm

READ: Wellington Olympic’s programme for match against Western Suburbs >>>>


Luke Austin

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

More football stories