It has been a thoroughly disappointing season for Team Wellington but Matt Calcott's men were at least able to gain a small slice of revenge yesterday.
Wellington, who are out of the semifinal reckoning, scored a 2-0 win over Otago United in the first national league game to be played in Invercargill.
Henry Fa'arodo and Hamish Watson both capitalised on sloppy Otago clearances to score first-half goals at the inappropriately named Rugby Park.
First, Solomon Islands international Fa'arodo met a Cory Chettleburgh lob with his head to make it 1-0 in the 16th minute.
And then Wellington Phoenix academy striker Watson beat Otago goalkeeper Liam Little one-on-one in the 24th minute.
The result partly made amends for Otago's shock 1-0 win over Wellington at Westpac Stadium in December.
There is one regular season round to play, with fifth-placed Wellington hosting fourth-placed Hawke's Bay United at David Farrington Park on Saturday.
Minor premiers Waitakere United inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Hawke's Bay in Napier yesterday.
The defending champions are yet to be beaten this season and goals to Jake Butler, Matt Cunneen and Ryan De Vries ensured that record remained intact at Bluewater Stadium.
Auckland City locked up second place with a 7-1 demolition of 10-man Waikato FC. Auckland already had the game sewn up at 3-0 before Ray How got his marching orders in the 43rd minute.
Spanish striker Gustavo Sanpedro scored a first-half brace while Alex Feneridis, Adam Dickinson, Manel Exposito, Emiliano Tade and Chris Bale also nabbed goals against the overmatched visitors at Kiwitea Street. Gurjeep Singh scored a consolation goal for Waikato. Canterbury United leapfrogged Hawke's Bay into third place with a 4-1 defeat of Manawatu in Christchurch.
Occasional All Whites midfielder Aaron Clapham scored a hat-trick for Canterbury, including two penalties, while Russell Kamo grabbed the fourth.
Seule Soromon scored Manawatu's goal from the penalty spot.
Waikato and Manawatu are in a grim struggle to avoid the wooden spoon, with both sides on six points and with -32 goal differentials.
Otago also have six points but a comparatively healthy -24 differential.
The numbers illustrate the gulf in talent within the league and New Zealand Football's continued difficulties in bridging the gap.
Waikato will host the Wellington Phoenix A side at Centennial Park in Ngaruawahia on Wednesday.
In the national youth league, Otago defeated Wellington 1-0.
- The Dominion Post
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