If Palmerston North Marist can pull off a win over Western Premiership title favourites Wanganui City tomorrow, the battle for the title will be back on.
Marist face a difficult task at Wembley Park, Wanganui. However, after Red Sox-Manawatu's 1-all draw in Wanganui last week, Marist will have plenty of confidence they can topple the unbeaten side.
This season, only Red Sox, with two draws, have been able to hamper Wanganui City in marching on to the Central League playoffs.
However, Marist, after being beaten 4-0 in Wanganui in the opening game of the season, have clawed their way to a position where they can mount a challenge to return to the Central League.
A Marist win means Wanganui City will need three wins to take the title. With a home game against Red Sox and an away fixture with Taranaki remaining, they will be under plenty of pressure.
Red Sox are still in the hunt but need to win each of their three remaining games against the other top-four teams, beginning with Team Taranaki at Memorial Park tomorrow. Red Sox would usually be the hot favourites to win. However, when the sides met recently at Memorial Park, Red Sox failed to take their chances and were beaten by a well-coached Taranaki side that executed a perfect gameplan.
On that occasion, Red Sox were playing just their second game in a month after Central Football decided it was more important to play a knockout tournament.
The 7-1 thrashing of Feilding and last week's 1-all draw with Wanganui City in Wanganui should give the Aaron Clegg-coached side plenty of confidence ahead of tomorrow, followed by Wanganui City and Marist.
Palmerston North Boys' High School have enjoyed a decent run of form that should be a confidence booster for the national secondary schools championships.
Tomorrow they should hold fifth spot in the league when they meet Feilding at Skoglund Park.
However, Feilding had a good win over Wanganui Athletic last week to move five points ahead of the bottom-placed rivals with two games remaining.
Underperforming North End should still add to Wanganui Athletic's misery when the sides meet at Skoglund Park tomorrow.
■ Massey University's unbeaten season should continue on Sunday when they face mid-table Wellington United Diamonds at Memorial Park.
As they build up to the national knockout final on August 26, at a venue still to be decided until after the Chatham Cup playoffs this weekend, an expected win over Wellington United will give them their first Central League title.
Massey have been runners-up on three occasions in recent seasons.
Valeron Wanderers have finished their debut Central League season in fourth spot.
However, that could become a still highly creditable fifth place if Lower Hutt win this weekend.
- © Fairfax NZ News