PREVIEW: Bottom teams face off in crucial Central League fixture

posted in: Central League, News

By Luke Austin

Stop Out and Island Bay United face what is arguably their most important fixture of the Central League season so far.

They face off this Saturday, and the points on offer present a golden opportunity to move away from the bottom of the table.

While all the focus will be on the first team in the A-League semi-final this Saturday, the Wellington Phoenix Reserves still have a job to do at Endeavour Park earlier in the day as they face second-placed Western Suburbs.

These two sides have already met this season, with Wests recording a narrow win.

With 10 goals in their last two games, Wests are in great form and will be tough to beat with key players Charles Ostrem and Lucas Meek returning from suspensions.

Sam Lack … late winner for Napier City Rovers.

North Wellington fell to a heavy defeat at home to Wests last weekend and now face the challenge of a visit from the high-flying Napier City Rovers.

A last-minute winner from midfielder Sam Lack saw the Blues snatch all three points from Petone and extend their impressive winning streak to six games.

Petone return to Memorial Park where they take on national champions Wellington Olympic and will hope for a repeat of their memorable 4-0 win over the defending champions in the same fixture last year.

The Greeks reminded everyone that they remain the top dogs in the Central League with a big win over rivals Miramar Rangers.

After such a promising start, Miramar have lost two on the bounce and slipped down to fifth place.

Their opponents this Saturday, Waterside Karori, have won their last four games and now find themselves in fourth spot.

If they continue their impressive form, they could find themselves in contention for National League qualification.

Game of the week

With North Wellington facing a tough fixture this weekend, Island Bay or Stop Out could move up into eighth place with a win at Wakefield Park.

Stop Out remain winless but earned a valuable point last weekend with a draw against the Phoenix Reserves.

Island Bay fell to another narrow 2-1 defeat and stay in ninth place, with their dramatic win over Petone remaining their only points of the season.

These two sides have developed somewhat of a rivalry over several years playing in the second-tier Capital Premier division and this will be their first meeting in the Central League.

The two sides are evenly matched, and with a lot riding on the result, this should be a great watch for any fans wanting to squeeze in some extra football viewing before the Phoenix semi-final in the evening.

Player to watch

Petone winger Jack O’Connor (20) scored a hat-trick in his side’s 4-0 win over Wellington Olympic last season.

He has made a great start to the season, with five goals in seven games, matching his total in the league throughout 2023.

With a habit of scoring spectacular goals, former Wests player O’Connor is one to watch as Petone go in search of another memorable result against the Greeks.

Bold prediction

Expect Napier City Rovers to ease to a seventh win in a row this weekend with their prolific striker Oscar Faulds amongst the goals once more.

I’m backing the big forward to score a hat-trick to add to his 12 goals for the campaign.

Golden Boot

12 — Oscar Faulds (Napier City Rovers)
10 — Lucas Meek (Western Suburbs)
7 — Hamish Watson (Wellington Olympic)
6 — Jesse Randall (Wellington Olympic), Sam Mason-Smith (Miramar Rangers)
5 — Jack O’Connor (Petone), Miles Green (Western Suburbs), Nicolas Bobadilla (Miramar Rangers)


Games to be played on Saturday May 18, 2024

North Wellington v Napier City Rovers
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville, 2pm

Western Suburbs v Wellington Phoenix Reserves
Endeavour Park, Whitby, 2pm

Miramar Rangers v Waterside Karori
David Farrington Park, Miramar, 2.30pm

Petone v Wellington Olympic
Petone Memorial Park, Petone, 2.30pm

Islands Bay United v Stop Out
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 3pm

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