The two remaining winless teams in the ISPS Handa Men's Premiership will face off this weekend, with the losing streak certain to finish for at least one of the struggling sides.
Hawke's Bay United suffered a injury time heartbreak for the second time in as many weeks on Sunday, after Auckland City snatched all three points courtesy of a 92nd minute winner.
After Argentinian-born Emiliano Tade laid a shirt in remembrance of the late Diego Maradona prior to kick-off, Hawke's Bay United enjoyed the majority of action in the early stages.
Despite not having won at Kiwitea Street in 16 years, the visitors produced the better football, which was rewarded with an early lead through forward Jesse Randall just shy of the half-hour mark.
The 18-year-old got on the scoresheet for the second week running after a mazy run from the halfway line ended with a smart left footed finish past Cameron Brown.
But, with the away side firmly in control, two contentious refereeing decisions changed the outcome of the game late on.
Referee Ben O'Connell controversially pointed to the penalty spot in 74th minute after what appeared to be a fair challenge from Jackson Woods, before New Zealand international and Auckland captain Cameron Howieson fired home from the spot.
Dylan Manickum's stoppage time winner from the edge of the box was also overshadowed by a foul on United winger Kailan Gould in the build-up .
Despite putting in a man of the match performance, Bay goalkeeper Scott Morris said the team would've taken a point against a side with eight league titles and nine OFC Champions League titles since their foundation in 2004.
"You don't have to be an expert to know that the refs got that wrong and it's not a pen," he said.
"We would've been happy with a point, but a win could've been on the cards if it wasn't for the ref's influence. It'd be easy to mention a conspiracy about Auckland, but we'll leave it there."
With both teams suffering three defeats on the bounce, Bay will next host fellow strugglers Canterbury United on December 6 at Bluewater Stadium, Napier.
Bay co-coach Chris Greatholder said while Sunday's hosts were a quality side, the manner of defeat was difficult to take, but all eyes are firmly on the next fixture.
"To have played so well, only to have something we can't control affect the outcome is tough to swallow," he said.
"We need to take our experiences from these three weeks and put all of our energy into performing as well as we can for Canterbury. We want to make our mark on the league by getting three points and going on a run."
Canterbury United, coached by former Wellington Phoenix youth development coach Lee Padmore, have started their campaign with losses against Waitakere United, Eastern Suburb and Hamilton Wanderers.
Morris said two strong performances against the league's biggest sides is a positive sign going into Sunday's match.
"It all sets up nicely to get our first points of the season against fellow point-less side Canterbury at home," he said. "And hopefully I can get one of those elusive clean sheets I keep hearing about."
Greatholder added that while winning matches is vital, developing young, Kiwi footballers is also part of the aim.
"I'm pleased and proud we've got so many young Kiwis we're nurturing and allowing to experience national football."