Led by a Ryan de Vries hat-trick, Waitakere United celebrated a fifth ASB minor Premiership in style with a 4-1 win over Otago United in Dunedin yesterday.
Auckland City took a massive step towards the all-important second place with a second cliff-hanger in four days against Team Wellington.
The Dunedin win, on the back of two goals in each half, maintained Waitakere's season-long unbeaten record and kept them seven points clear of City at the top of the table.
De Vries gave Waitakere their 32nd minute lead which he doubled six minutes later to take the wind from the home team sails.
The home side closed the gap four minutes into the second spell when Regan Coldicott turned Tim Myers before slotting his sixth goal of the season. Allan Pearce fluffed his penalty attempt which could have increased Waitakere's lead and kept Otago in the game until the 90th minute when Milos Nikolic, handed a start in Roy Krishna's absence, made it safe.
Not satisfied with that, de Vries took over the penalty-taking duties three minutes into stoppage time to complete the victory.
It was never as comfortable for Auckland City. Team Wellington struck first when Darren Cheriton handed the home side their 32nd minute lead. Seven minutes into the second half Adam Dickinson slotted from the spot for 1-1.
Simon Arms gave City the lead with his first goal for the club but Hamish Watson, again used off the bench, squared the ledger with nine minutes to play.
In another torrid finish, City snatched it, again in stoppage time, when Daniel Koprivcic popped up to grab the winner.
The match of the round in Napier ended 1-1 after Connor Tinnion had given the home side their 44th minute lead. Canterbury United captain Aaron Clapham, with his seventh goal of the season, broke Hawkes Bay United hearts with his equaliser two minutes into stoppage time.
With no second half scoring, the Bay retained their two-point lead over Canterbury, who face YoungHeart Manawatu and Waitakere in their remaining games, with Hawkes Bay at home to Waitakere and away to Team Wellington.
Sam Redwood scored the late winner for Manawatu as they got up 3-2 over Waikato FC at Porritt Stadium, leaving the wooden spoon battle between Otago, Waikato and Manawatu.By Terry Maddaford Email Terry