Marist determined for a winning finish
Palmerston North Marist are desperate for a winning finish to their league season over Red Sox-Manawatu at Memorial Park, in Palmerston North, tomorrow.
With a win, Marist will leave themselves in with a chance to win the Western Premiership title and join the playoffs for a place back in the Central League they were relegated from at the end of last season.
With games between the top-four sides being close all season, a win over Red Sox isn't guaranteed but with Red Sox now out of the running to retain the title they won last season, Marist might have more to play for.
With a win Marist will be able to sit back for the next three weeks and hope Wanganui City can be held to a draw by another top-four side Taranaki, Red Sox or even in their catchup game with bottom-four team Feilding who have been giving sides grief recently.
Red Sox will be kicking themselves for not taking scoring chances over the last five games, including last week against Taranaki when they ended up with a draw after looking safe at 1-0 ahead midway through the second spell.
Marist on the other hand have been virtually impregnable at the back, conceding only nine goals in the season and keeping a clean sheet in the last six weeks. That has been despite coach Matt Kennedy having to deal with plenty of injuries.
On Sunday in New Plymouth, Taranaki will be out to end Wanganui City's title hopes.
In other Western Premiership games, North End will be out to get something from their miserable season when they host Feilding at Skoglund Park.
A win and North End will finish in fifth place, but with a loss to Feilding they could end up down the bottom with only Wanganui Athletic below them.
Under-resourced Feilding have battled away all season and they themselves could finish fifth, something not even coach Jeff Gleave could have contemplated a few games into the season when he lost five of his best players to injuries.
Palmerston North Boys' High School are possibly in the best position to finish fifth and with an away game against Wanganui Athletic they should get a big boost to their goal difference.
In the women's Central League, Massey University coach Simon Lees won't be taking any chances with players carrying injuries ahead of the ASB national knockout final against Auckland side Three Kings at Newtown Park on Sunday, August 26.
With the league sewn up, Massey meet a strong Waterside Karori in Wellington on Sunday knowing a win will give them an unbeaten season.
Last week Lees left one part of his ace midfield duo Emily McColl on the bench with a slight hamstring niggle and he could be tempted to do the same again. Also out hurt was striker Rhonda Bridges.
Lees won't want anything untoward to strike goal-scoring machine Emma Boyack (41 goals), striker Jane Barnett, midfielder Leah Gallie and central defenders Rosie Missen and Jess Green before the final.
- © Fairfax NZ News