Kerikeri's hopes of securing Northland's premier women's football league title received a boost on Sunday when they edged out a 2-1 win over league-leaders Onerahi.
Kerikeri, who sit in second on the nine-team table, were in desperate need of a win against the competition's form team who hadn't lost in this season's 12 previous games.
Onerahi now sit in first with 36 points with Kerikeri trailing by five points, but with a game in hand. With four games left in the league, a dominant first half performance was exactly what the Mid North team needed.
"In the first half, we came out and applied pressure, we pressed hard and just made the best of the opportunities we got from a couple of mistakes they made," Kerikeri coach Russell McCabe said.
Thanks to their continued pressure, Kerikeri nicked two goals before halftime through striker Kelli Skipage and left forward Amy Wyatt, who took advantage of errors in Onerahi's defensive end. During the break, McCabe said he discussed changing the team's game plan considering the two-goal lead.
"We had to make a decision whether to defend or attack, but we decided to carry on playing and keep seeing if we could get more opportunities."
McCabe said the second half was a much more even affair with Onerahi's midfield combining nicely to score a goal about 15 minutes into the half. With Onerahi pushing more players forward, Kerikeri had to fall back and use all their defensive skills to hold onto the 2-1 scoreline.
In the previous fixture between the two teams, Onerahi came out on top with a 4-1 win. McCabe said he was confident of getting a good result from Sunday's game if his side reduced their errors.
"When we played last time, we were the ones making mistakes and [Onerahi] capitalised," McCabe said.
"Looking at the way we've been training in the last few weeks, I didn't see how we couldn't get a few goals against them."
Even with a game in hand, Kerikeri need Onerahi to draw one of their three remaining games as well as winning their own games to have a shot at the title.
In the round's other games, Tikipunga beat Kaitaia, 7-1, and Bream Bay beat Kamo, 3-0. The Northland FC women's team lost 2-0 to Ellerslie on Sunday at Tikipunga Sports Park.