Waitakere United were yesterday on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in ASB Premiership soccer history, being upended 3-1 at home by the struggling Southern United.
The champions suffered their third defeat of the season to slip to fourth place, with Southern winning just their second game of the season.
Southern came into the contest second from bottom, having conceded 17 goals from seven games. They travelled to Fred Taylor Park with only a victory over last-placed Wanderers SC, with the TAB installing them as $16 outsiders.
Waitakere, on the other hand, have spent the entire campaign near the top of the table, making a good start to their quest for a fifth straight title.
But the form book was cast aside as Southern romped to victory, despite playing the final 25 minutes with 10 men.
The visitors got off to the best possible start, stunning the home crowd when Henrique Alves-Viana chipped Danny Robinson in the third minute.
Tim Myers snuck home a scrappy equaliser in the 39th minute and normal service seemed to have resumed. But Southern went back in front three minutes later, with Peter Rae taking advantage of a defensive mix-up.
When Morgan Day received his second yellow card the stage seemed set for Waitakere to snatch a come-from-behind victory. That idea lasted for only three minutes, though, as Logan Wright-Webb tucked home from a goalmouth scramble.
Waitakere piled forward in an attempt to pull themselves back into the game, but Southern held on.
Auckland City made the most of the rivals' mishap and went one point clear with two games in hand after a 3-2 win over Team Wellington at Kiwitea St. Two Emiliano Tade goals sandwiched a Ryan de Vries strike to grab all three points, with two late goals from Wellington providing a nervous finish.
Elsewhere, Canterbury United and Hawkes Bay United drew level with Waitakere to create a congested top half of the table. Canterbury edged WaiBOP United 1-0 at home, while Hawkes Bay beat Wanderers at North Harbour Stadium.