Waitakere United and Canterbury United extended their lead at the top of the table with wins over Hawke's Bay and YoungHeart Manawatu after yesterday's latest round of ASB Premiership matches.
Waitakere United's 3-1 win over 10-man Hawke's Bay United kept the West Aucklanders top and preserved their six match unbeaten run, while Canterbury United overcame a stubborn YoungHeart Manawatu courtesy of two late goals by Russell Kamo and Darren White North to stay within a single point of the league leaders in Palmerston North.
Otago United ended their 14-match winless streak with a 1-0 victory over Team Wellington thanks to a Joel Stevens strike six minutes from time. Otago climbed off the bottom of the table but in winning created a log jam with only 3 points separating the bottom four teams.
In Palmerston North, Canterbury United's run of red hot form continued as they made it five wins from their last five games after they downed YoungHeart Manawatu 2-0. YoungHeart Manawatu gave as good as they got but paid for a spate of missed chances as first White, then Kamo, notched goals in the final 20 minutes.
Waitakere United nabbed two quick goals by Brian Shelley and David Mulligan in a four minute spell early in the first half to earn an advantage they rarely looked like surrendering.
The Bay pulled a goal back through Stephen Hoyle on 22 minutes but a red card for former Waitakere front man Sean Lovemore put paid to any hopes of a comeback. Former All Whites midfielder David Mulligan was in top form for Waitakere setting up Shelley's goal before grabbing his fifth of the campaign.
The league leaders could've won by a wider margin but for some wayward finishing by Allan Pearce and Roy Krishna but the points were made safe for the Paul Marshall-coached table toppers when substitute Milos Nikolic added a third goal two minutes into time added on for a goal scoring debut against Nikolic's old teammates and a 3-1 win.
Otago United grabbed their first points of the season and ended a 14-match winless streak that stretched back to round 5 of last season. The southerners survived some thanks to hectic defending and Wellington's Cory Chettleburgh went close when his effort forced Craig Ferguson into a goal line headed clearance on 56 minutes. Tom Connor saved Otago 20 minutes later when he cleared a Henry Fa'arodo effort off the line, before Stevens - who struck the post after just two minutes of play - nabbed his third goal of the campaign when he broke clear and beat Scott Basalaj with a tidy finish six minutes from the final whistle.
It is just the second time the southerners have beaten Team Wellington in the capital in nine seasons.