Football: High scoring clashes continue in ASB Premiership

By Niall Anderson

Auckland City's Joao Moreira. Photo / www.photosport.nz
Auckland City's Joao Moreira. Photo / www.photosport.nz

Five teams are fighting for the four playoff spots as high-scoring contests continue to dominate the ASB Premiership.

Auckland City continue to lead the way, stretching their year-long unbeaten run with a comfortable 4-2 victory over the Wellington Phoenix Reserves.

Striker Joao Moreira shone with a first-half hat-trick, with Ryan De Vries sweeping home another as the defending champions took a 4-1 halftime lead which was only dampened by a late consolation for the Reserves.

City have 20 points through eight games, and behind them are a swarm of teams battling it out for pole position in the playoff race.

Hawke's Bay United have jumped into second spot, edging Southern United 2-1 in a frantic finish. Former Wellington Phoenix star Paul Ifill scored the winner in the 82nd minute, but Bay keeper Josh Hill was the hero, saving Harley Rodeka's penalty in the 87th minute to secure all three points.

Two of the other teams battling for the playoffs clashed today, with Team Wellington and Canterbury United playing out a 2-2 draw.

Canterbury twice took the lead, including an 87th minute header from veteran defender Dan Terris which looked to have sealed a valuable three points.

However, United striker Juan Chang was sent off in stoppage time for a handball, and Chris Bale slotted away the resulting penalty - his second of the game - to share the points.

The result leaves Canterbury in third with 16 points in nine games, with Wellington a point back in fifth, but holding a game in hand.

They are separated by one of the form teams in the competition - WaiBOP United - who destroyed Waitakere United 5-0 on Thursday night.

Next week will be crucial for the top sides - with Wellington and Auckland making up their game in hand on Thursday night before taking on WaiBOP and Hawke's Bay respectively in vital clashes.

- NZ Herald

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