Auckland City keeping their firm grip on second place in beating a spirited Otago United 3-1 in the only home team win of the round.
Rated 20 to one shots, Otago surprised many late in the first half when they clawed back from 2-0 to 2-1 before lively Frenchman Victor da Costa, who had provided the clinical assist for Regan Coldicott's opening goal, hit the crossbar with what could have been a 43rd minute equaliser.
City made certain there would be no Otago comeback when Adam Dickinson rolled home a third goal.
Otago coach Richard Murray, forced to put out a weakened side after he had two players sent off a week earlier in the 4-1 win over Manawatu, felt they might have been a bit gun-shy in the opening 25 minutes as City took control.
"We sat back too deep early on but once we started to press forward we found they were like any other team."
The warm conditions were testing for both teams.