PREVIEW: Miramar Rangers and Western Suburbs set pace in Central League

posted in: Central League, News

By Luke Austin

Can Miramar Rangers continue their hot start to the Central League?

A victory against in-form Western Suburbs last weekend means Miramar are now three from three in the Central League and are the league’s only unbeaten side.

Despite their defeat at David Farrington Park, it is Wests who head into Round 4 in top spot due to their 1-0 midweek win over the Phoenix Reserves.

This game was brought forward in the season shedule, likely due to the OFC U-19 Championship scheduled for July, when the Phoenix are expected to have a number of players representing New Zealand.

Against Wests, the Phoenix were unable to make the most of a strong line-up featuring several former academy players who have recently signed with the first team, including Fin Chonchie, Luke Supyk and Gabriel Sloane-Rodrigues.

The Phoenix must now turn their attention towards Saturday’s opening fixture which sees them host Napier City Rovers, who have started their campaign strongly with two wins from three.

Phoenix midfielder Fin Conchie (right) … will miss this weekend’s game against Napier City Rovers. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.

The Nix will be without midfielder Conchie, suspended after his sending-off in midweek.

Defending champions Wellington Olympic travel to Hutt Park to take on Stop Out in a fixture they should win, though it is worth remembering the Greeks’ slip-up in this same fixture last year.

After four away games, Western Suburbs finally have their first home game of the season, against Waterside Karori.

The Wharfies have struggled since their opening-day victory over North Wellington and will face another stern test against high-flying Wests.

Miramar play at David Farrington Park again, looking to extend their perfect start to the campaign with a victory over Petone. Rangers have re-signed Brad Whitworth (29) who has returned to Wellington after a short spell with Australian club NWS Spirit.

Game of the week

Crucial points are up for the taking during this weekend’s clash between Island Bay United and North Wellington.

Many expect these two sides to be engaged in a tight battle at the bottom of the table this year and this game will provide an indication of who might have the upper hand.

Island Bay earned their first win of the season in dramatic fashion last weekend, scoring three goals in the final 10 minutes to defeat Petone.

Charles Ostrem.

North Wellington remain winless and sit at the bottom of the ladder on one point.

Both sides will consider this to be a winnable game, and it should prove to be an entertaining spectacle.

Player to watch

Western Suburbs have secured the services of another high-quality American player for the season.

Charles Ostrem (24) has joined from Chicago Fire where he was a regular starter for the club’s reserve team, making 45 appearances in the MLS Next Pro.

The versatile player, who has a strong partnership with fellow American Lucas Meek, has featured in all of West’s games so far and found the back of the net against Olympic in Round 2.

He will be one to watch at Endeavour Park this Saturday.

Bold prediction

With a first win under their belts, Island Bay United will be full of confidence heading into their home fixture against North Wellington.

The Bay currently sit in 8th place, two points ahead of Saturday’s opponents.

I predict they will earn some breathing room and move up the table with another big three points.

Oscar Faulds … four goals for Napier City Rovers in three rounds.

Golden Boot

8 — Lucas Meek (Western Suburbs)
4 — Oscar Faulds (Napier City Rovers)
3 — Hamish Watson (Wellington Olympic), Jack O’Connor (Petone), Jesse Randall (Wellington Olympic), Martin Bueno (Miramar Rangers)
2 — Cameron Mackenzie (Western Suburbs), Henry Lenihan-Geels (Island Bay United)


Games to be played on Saturday April 20, 2024

Wellington Phoenix Reserves v Napier City Rovers
Fraser Park, Taita, 1pm

Miramar Rangers v Petone
David Farrington Park, Miramar, 2.30pm

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

Western Suburbs v Waterside Karori
Endeavour Park, Whitby, 2.30pm

Island Bay United v North Wellington
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 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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