The Napier City Rovers coaching stable will not endorse it for fear of losing focus but tomorrow's game is the defining one for the last remaining silverware this winter.

Beat Stop Out in the 2pm kick off at Park Island, Napier, and the Conroy Removals-sponsored Blues should be home and hosed for only the second back-to-back Lotto Central League crown in winter football.

The remaining two away games of the season - against cellar dwellers Lower Hutt City the following Saturday and a Chatham Cup-postponed affair against Palmerston North Marist on a date to be confirmed - should be rudimentary.

"Yes and no," says Rovers player-coach Bill Robertson when asked if he agrees, before their last outing at the Bluewater Stadium tomorrow to emulate the feat only Miramar Rangers have accomplished in the league.


"We have to take each game as it comes but obviously our destiny is in our own hands."

Stop Out beat the Blues 3-1 in Wellington on May 28, the first side to inflict a loss on the Napier outfit.

Miramar is the only other side to beat Rovers this winter, ending their Chatham Cup run (4-3) in extra time here early, as well as beating the 10-man Blues 2-1 at Park Island a fortnight ago.

Rovers co-captains Danny Wilson and Finlay Milne have found themselves back to the drawing board at key junctures, revising the team's mission statement.

The pre-season goal of a double (cup and league) was the first to go.

Then three stalemates suggested the home-ground fortress status was at risk and that duly came to pass in the cup loss.

The O'Brien Challenge Shield (up for contention only in home league encounters) also had its moments of staying on the mantelpiece of the clubrooms amid motivational declarations that few, if any, clubs have kept it for an entire season.

Miramar spoilt that party, hitting the highway with the shield and pushing the hapless Rovers into the dreaded quagmire of mathematical equations.


But keeping their mitts on the league cup is do-able for the Blues.

Having said that, funnier things (not ha-ha variety) have happened in the beautiful game and the slippery banana skin on the other side of the Manawatu Gorge springs to mind in myriad codes.

A reflective Robertson suspects complacency may have been a factor in their first defeat to Stop Out and believes it was a timely wake-up call for his troops.

English import playmaker Saul Halpin is likely to be scratched tomorrow after a recurrence of a hamstring injury. He hasn't trained this week.

Go-to man Tom Biss also hasn't trained due to illness after serving a match suspension for a red card he picked up against Miramar.

"Bissy hasn't been to work all week either, so we'll be making a late call on him," says Robertson.

Teenager Ross Willox, in his debut season, returns to the fray after a university scholarship scouting mission in the United States for a fortnight.

Goalkeeping coach Kyle Baxter returns to the bench after playing HB Premier Knockout Cup for the reserves grade last Saturday as the Blues returned with three points away against Wellington United.

Stop Out player Steven Guley says they'll need a miracle to win the league but they aren't lacking incentives.

"We're hoping to finish in the top three because it'll be our best finish in the league in 30-odd years," says Guley, saying they relish the chance to decide who'll win the title, leaders Wellington Olympic or second-placed Blues.

Stop Out are no mugs, boasting a potent front trio of golden-boot contender Micky Malivuk as well as the ex-Olympic pair of Luis Corrales and former Rover Andrew Abba.

The 30-year-old midfielder says they beat Rovers at home via solid defence and counterattacks.

"We're going to change a few things this time," says the builder, who says Stop Out are over their injury and suspension woes.

No doubt the persistent rain will make them feel at home in Park Island after their first clash on an artificial turf.

NAPIER CITY ROVERS: 1. Ruben Parker Hanks (GK), 2 Daniel Ball, 3. Ethan Ladd, 5. Finlay Milne, 7. Stephen Hoyle, 8. Ryan Tinsley, 9. Vinnie MacKirdy, 11. Tom Biss, 14. Josh Stevenson, 15. James Hoyle, 16. Danny Wilson (c), 17. Fergus Neil, 18. Ross Willox, 19. Bill Robertson, 21. Kyle Baxter (RGK).

Player/coach: Bill Robertson.
Ast coach: Chris Greatholder.

STOP OUT: 1 Chris Campbell (GK), 2 James Sutcliffe, 4 Khalid Razouk, 5 Lewis Frances, 6 Devon Batchelor, 7 Martin Packer, 9 Josh McEvoy, 10 Micky Malivuk, 11 Andrew Abba, 12 Brandon Tai, 14 Luke Grindlay, 15 Luis Corrales, 16 Jason Tipping (c), 17 Steve Guley, 18 Sam Pickering, 19 Jordan Martens.

Coach: Chris Sambrooke.