Team Wellington on target for playoffs

21:47, Feb 27 2012

Coach Matt Calcott is adamant Team Wellington are closing the gap on the ASB Premiership's big guns despite slumping to a 3-1 loss at Waitakere yesterday.

Wellington remain fourth and should still make the playoffs, but there is little evidence they have the formula to overcome either Auckland City or defending champs Waitakere.

Talented Wellington teenager Louis Fenton opened the scoring at Fred Taylor Park before Chris Bale and Ryan de Vries struck two goals in as many minutes.

Former Wellington player Bale scored his second after halftime with a spectacular long-range effort and any hopes of a comeback were cruelled as striker Ethan Galbraith was given his marching orders for a hard challenge on Aaron Scott.

"They were cracking goals but it doesn't make it any easier does it? But I think the gap is getting smaller,'' Calcott said.

"We can take confidence from the way that we've grown, so come April and playoffs, we'll just get stronger and stronger and that's exciting as far as I'm concerned.''

City sealed the minor premiership with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Hawke's Bay United. Second-placed Canterbury United beat Otago United 3-0 and stragglers Waikato FC and Manawatu drew 1-1.

Waitakere's win means Wellington can only qualify for the O-League by winning the grandfinal, while Hawke's Bay retains a slim mathematical chance of overhauling Calcott's men if they can beat Waikato and Wellington in their final two matches.

The next round is scheduled for March 11 when Wellington visit the Stu Jacobs-coached Manawatu, who are trying to avoid the dubious honour of a winless season.