Whanganui's premier football teams are at a crucial point in the season when regaining and holding form is pivotal.
GJ Gardner Homes Whanganui Athletic's top side gave notice they were nearing their best form again with a 5-1 whipping of Napier Marist in their Lotto Central Federation League match, while Athletic Reserves continued a disappointing run of form, suffering a 6-nil drubbing by an in-form Placemakers PNBHS 1st XI last weekend in their Yorb Horizons Premiership clash.
Versatile Wanganui City have been stoically hanging on in their bid for a repeat win in the Horizons Premiership, drawing 3-all with PN Marist Reserves last week.
Last week, Athletic's top team coach Tex von Kwiatkowski said the next two games against Napier and Palmerston Marist would play a pivotal role in their 2021 campaign.
"We win, we are back to being players in the league. They don't realise we are better than where we are on the table."
On the strength of the 5-1 win over Napier last week Athletic sit fifth on the table with 10 points behind joint leaders Havelock North and Massey University on 16 points, PN Marist on 13 points and Gisborne Thistle on 12.
Athletic have the home advantage against PN Marist this weekend with a 2.45pm kick off at Wembley Park tomorrow.
They had been defensively sound through five games, conceding just seven goals. It is on attack where Athletic have struggled, bagging just six goals over that time. Adding five to the tally last week while conceding just one would have given confidence.
Von Kwiatkowski said developing their attacking philosophy and skillset had been a huge focus at training over the last few weeks.
Those scoring woes were only amplified last weekend when they were without 2020 top goal scorer Josh Smith due to the red card he received against Peggy Gordons New Plymouth Rangers. However, they needn't have worried.
As the season goes on, they will slowly return to full strength after a raft of injuries.
Von Kwiatkowski said starter Will King was set to return from injury in the near future and defensive lynchpin Shaan Stuart would be back in New Zealand in July.
Meanwhile, the woes continue for Athletic Reserves who now sit third from the bottom of the table. They also play at home with a 12.30pm kickoff at Wembley against North End Reserves.
City are still without a coach after newcomer Mark Hetherington stood down, forcing senior players to take on a caretaker role.
Captain Latham Berry said while the team were not totally happy with the way they had been playing, they were satisfied enough with their results.
"We haven't been playing our best, but we're hanging in there," Berry said.
"We really do need to step up now and make our claim on this competition.
"PNBHS is a fit young side playing well, but we do need to start playing like we know we can and beat them this weekend."