After a home loss to the Wellington Phoenix reserves on Wednesday, Waitakere United face an important challenge today.
Hosting third-placed Hawke's Bay United at Fred Taylor Park, Waitakere need to recover to keep their title challenge on track - but will field a much stronger side than the squad who faced the Phoenix.
Leading the league by a single point over Canterbury United, anything but a win could see Waitakere drop down to second today. Kick-off is at 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, Canterbury face a much a much easier task, albeit on the road, against Manawatu.
After their opening-day defeat to Auckland City, Canterbury have won all four games and will be looking to in-form international midfielder Aaron Clapham, with five goals so far this season, to drive the club forward.
Manawatu are not without firepower though, with Tomas Mosquera joint leader in the golden boot race with Hawke's Bay striker Sean Lovemore.
Manawatu are struggling, with only three points all season, and will need to find something very special to overhaul the visitors.
Kick-off is at 2pm.
Today's final game sees bottom-of-the-table Otago travel to Wellington.
Mid-table Wellington will be hot favourites for the points against a side still yet to win a game, and with the league's worst goal difference of -11 after five games. In the words of Otago coach Richard Murray "we need some luck". Kick-off is at 1.45pm.
Auckland City again play no part after a 0-1 midweek defeat in the Club World Cup.
Travelling back from Japan, City, who will have two games in hand after today's round, return to action on Wednesday against second-bottom Waikato.
- Sunday Star Times
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