The Horizons Premiership is likely to come right down to the last full weekend of matches as Big Orange Wanganui City 1sts navigated their away game with Feilding United 6-3 at Timona Park on Saturday.
However, Hokowhitu FC continue to lead the competition by a point and have expanded their goal differential advantage to four after a comfortable 7-2 win over North End at Skoglund Park.
City raced out to a 2-0 advantage with Max Davidson and Dan Aplin scoring in the third and eighth minutes, which led coach Kelvin Francis to believe his side could come close to matching Hokowhitu's seemingly improbable 13-0 thrashing of Feilding seven days before.
However, the home side had regained their sanity since that uncharacteristic performance, and proceeded to peg City back for 2-2 by the 39th minute.
"They shaped up 4-4-2, rather than six at the back," said Francis.
"They're depleted in numbers, after talking with their coach, which might explain last week.
"We were caught a couple of times, a bit flat at the back. A miscommunication between two of our boys."
One goal may have been marginally offside, but Francis just got his players to focus on the task at hand, as Aplin immediately scored his second and then Kyle Graham-Luke got his shot on target for 4-2 at halftime.
The boggy ground with long grass that couldn't be mowed because of the weeks of rain meant the bounce of the ball often went over feet, but City stayed the course as Anthony Bell got his 13th goal for the season and then defensive back Eli Fleming got a ripper.
"This nice little dink, just chipped it over the keeper," said Francis.
Feilding got one more consolation score after a scramble in the goalmouth, while Francis was left worried when Bell went down screaming after a hard contact with their goalie.
It is hoped he will be alright after an MVP performance, while Davidson picked up an MVP point by having four assists from City's six goals, and Alpin is now looking very comfortable playing for the 1sts after nailing his first away-game goals.
However, the ball is still in Hokowhitu's court, as their season ends with games against bottom-ranked Marist Development and third-placed Palmerston North Boys High, while City must face North End and Massey Celtic, ranked 8th and 7th respectively.
Francis knows it will come down to the PNBHS schoolboys to do his side the huge favour.
"We're doing what we need to do. It's just going to be about points."