Auckland City have wrestled back control of a tightly contested Stirling Sports Premiership.

In the competition's first round back after the Christmas break, Auckland have put themselves two points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand thanks to a 3-1 victory over Team Wellington.

In a re-match of last season's grand final won by Wellington, Auckland's victory vaulted them clear of three teams who share second spot.

Ryan De Vries opened the account for Auckland after capitalising on a defensive mix-up, and although Auckland were soon reduced to 10 men, De Vries set up their second in the 69th minute as Emiliano Tade doubled their advantage.


Ben Harris dragged one back for Wellington to make the final moments tense, but Tade notched his second from the penalty spot to wrap up the result and snap Wellington's seven-game unbeaten streak.

Wellington now share second spot with two sides going in different directions.

Eastern Suburbs have gone from being competition frontrunners to possessing a three-match winless streak, being held to a 1-1 draw at home by the Wellington Phoenix's Under-20s.

A Sean Lovemore goal in the 75th minute cancelled out an opening own goal to see the points shared, and continue the impressive season of the youthful Phoenix.

Also impressive of late are Waitakere United, who stretched their unbeaten streak to four games with a 1-0 win over Hawke's Bay United. Journeyman striker Ethan Galbraith knocked in a goal on debut to jump Waitakere into the top four.

Sitting just outside the playoffs are Canterbury United, who needed a late winner to beat Tasman United 3-2 in the tightest match of the round.

After Dylan Burns had put Tasman in front, the influential Canterbury midfield pair of Andre De Jong and Aaron Clapham scored in quick succession to give Canterbury a 2-1 lead going into the break.

A sharp finish from Tinashe Marowa levelled proceedings, but just as a draw looked secure, Stephen Hoyle headed in a ball from a goalmouth scramble to put Canterbury just one point outside of the playoffs.

Tasman are now last on the ladder after usual cellar-dwellers Southern United embarrassed Hamilton Wanderers 4-0 on Saturday.​