PREVIEW: Rovers out to derail Wellington Olympic’s Central League title push

posted in: Central League, News

By Luke Austin

Napier City Rovers’ only loss of the season came in the opening round against Wellington Olympic.

This Saturday, the sides meet again in a clash which could define the second half of the Central League.

The first game of the weekend sees Miramar Rangers travel to Fraser Park to take on the Wellington Phoenix Reserves.

Miramar have enjoyed a solid first half of the season but need to keep stringing together wins to break into the top three which would ensure National League qualification.

Rangers will be favourites against the young Phoenix Reserves team who have struggled for consistency so far this season.

Fifth-placed Waterside Karori are set to play at Karori Park for the first time this season, where they will take on North Wellington.

North Wellington sit in 9th place, with only one win in the league so far, but will be eager to build on an impressive 4-1 victory over the Phoenix Reserves in the Chatham Cup last weekend.

The Wharfies go into the match having successfully defended the O’Brien Shield four times this season.

North Wellington’s battle with Stop Out and Island Bay United to avoid the drop may go right to the wire.

Bottom side Stop Out host Petone at Hutt Park where they will go in search of a much-needed first win of the season.

Petone have failed to hit the heights of 2023 and need more points to avoid being caught in the tight scrap at the bottom end of the table.

Island Bay face a difficult trip to Endeavour Park to take on second-placed Western Suburbs.

The newly-promoted Island Bay were handed a tough introduction to Central League football when these two sides met in the opening round of the season, with Wests coming away from Wakefield Park with a 7-1 victory.

The Bay will want a more competitive showing this time but can expect no mercy from the impressive Wests outfit.

Long-serving Henry Lenihan-Geels will play his last game for Island Bay before heading overseas.

Game of the week

With a game in hand over Western Suburbs, it is third-placed Napier City Rovers who are best positioned to stop defending champions Wellington Olympic from cruising to another Central League title.

A win for the Hawke’s Bay team at Wakefield Park would see them overtake their opponents; a win for the Greeks would open up a five-point gap between the sides.

Can Napier secure a huge win to blow the title race wide open or will Olympic assert their dominance?

Head to Wakefield Park at 2pm this Saturday to find out.

Wellington Olympic’s Kaelin Nguyen challenges Auckland City’s Regont Murati during this year’s OFC Champions League play-offs. Photo: Andy Skinner /Phototek.

Player to watch

Formed Phoenix Reserves player Kaelin Nguyen (21) has been impressing for Wellington Olympic.

The pacey left-sided player who featured in the Phoenix first team in the Australia Cup has scored four times and provided several assists in the Central League this season.

Of Vietnamese heritage, he’s eligible to represent Vietnam and is reportedly open to national selection there.

Nguyen will be one to keep an eye on throughout his side’s crucial clash with Napier City Rovers, with whom he had a brief spell during the 2021 season.

Bold prediction

Can North Wellington secure a rare Central League win this weekend?

The 9th-placed side should be full of confidence following a big win over the Phoenix Reserves in the Chatham Cup, and I’m tipping them to come away from Karori Park with a shock win on Saturday.

Golden Boot

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


Games to be played on Saturday June 8, 2024

Wellington Phoenix Reserves v Miramar Rangers
Fraser Park, Taita,12.30pm

Wellington Olympic v Napier City Rovers
Wakefield Park, Island Bay, 2pm

Stop Out v Petone
Hutt Park, Lower Hutt, 2.30pm

Waterside Karori v North Wellington
Karori Park, Karori, 2.30pm

Game to be played on Sunday June 9, 2024

Western Suburbs v Island Bay United
Endeavour Park, Whitby, 2pm

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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