Palmerston North Marist put themselves in with a chance of the Western Premiership title after winning their final game of the season 1-0 over Red Sox-Manawatu at Memorial Park on Saturday.
The win gave Marist 41 points and an eight-point lead in the league - a total Wanganui City could surpass with three wins in their final catch-up games which started with Taranaki in New Plymouth yesterday.
Unfortunately for Marist, Wanganui City scored the winning goal with less than five minutes of the game left for a 4-3 victory.
Marist will now be pinning their hopes on either Feilding next week, or more likely Red Sox in a fortnight's time, to at least take a point off Wanganui City and allow Marist to sneak through to the league title.
Marist won a tight encounter with Red Sox after Marist's midfielder Mikey Crisford, a former Red Sox player, struck a sweet free kick from the edge on the box midway through the first spell.
In a game punctuated by poor passing which saw very few quality passes heading towards the strikers, each side created only two other clear scoring chances.
During the past few seasons, all the top Manawatu teams have suffered from a lack of goal scorers and both Red Sox and Marist could have added goals but for poor finishing, when the ball finally found them in space.
But if YoungHeart Manawatu coach Stu Jacobs bothered to turn up and watch the top local sides playing, he wouldn't have been impressed with few players standing out.
Feilding coach Jeff Gleave said his side have gained in confidence with their efforts this season despite a lack of player depth.
After Saturday's 1-all draw with North End at Skoglund Park, Gleave's team will be able to rest up over the summer and begin next season more confidently than they did this season.
If they can add three or more new players, he's confident Feilding will be able to threaten any of the top sides.
Feilding still have to play Wanganui City and though that may be a tough nut to crack, a Feilding win will allow them to overtake North End in fifth place.
Palmerston North Boys' High School would have been disappointed to end their league season with an awful 2-1 loss to Wanganui Athletic, even though the game was played in Whanganui.
It was a surprise loss for a Boys' High team that have steadily been building towards the national secondary schools' champs.
The Massey University women's team finished the Central League in convincing style with a 4-2 win over previous titleholder Waterside Karori on an atrocious pitch in Wellington yesterday.
Coach Simon Lees kept up his record of resting his better players at different stages with Emma Boyack sitting the game out.
It made little difference with Rhonda Bridges back from injury scoring along with fellow attacking players Coral Steath and Jane Barnett. Classy midfielder Leah Gallie got a well-deserved goal.
It was a surprise the game had gone ahead with the Wellington pitch underwater in places and hard-driven passes travelling only a few metres before coming to a halt in the water.
Lees would have been pleased to get the game out of the way though, so he could concentrate on building up for the national knockout final in a fortnight.
- © Fairfax NZ News