Relegation from the Northern League Premier Division looms for Melville United following Saturday's 3-0 home defeat to Waitakere City.
Declan Edge's young side now sits second-to-bottom with just five matches remaining, with the bottom two facing the drop, and their chances of catching any of the sides above them now appear remote.
Waitakere's win puts them three points ahead of Melville, but with Waitakere's current lineup it's hard to imagine them failing to collect more points.
Melville's remaining games are away to Onehunga Sports (fifth), home v Three Kings United (fourth), away to Eastern Suburbs (last), home against East Coast Bays (second) and a catch-up local derby at home against Hamilton Wanderers (third).
While a change in fortune and form could see Melville pick up possibly nine or 10 points from those matches, Waitakere are now capable of winning most of their remaining fixtures and the seventh-placed team in the 10-team league, Manurewa, are now 12 points clear of Melville after a surprise 4-2 win over East Coast Bays on Saturday.
As they have been for most of this season, Melville were more than competitive for the majority of their clash with the visitors. But they rarely troubled opposing keeper Danny Robinson and some brief lapses in defence proved costly.
In front of a miniscule gathering – it would be irresponsible to label them a crowd – Waitakere gave the hosts a fright when Rory Turner deflected a shot onto the post but Melville responded well and shared the spoils for the first half-hour only to fall behind.
Waitakere switched the play adroitly from left to right and Ashton Pett's cross saw goalkeeper Matt Oliver come to collect, only to fail to reach the ball as Turner was left free to head into the empty net.
Oliver later made an excellent save low to his left when Jake Butler was through on goal and when Melville had their best spell at the start of the second spell, Robinson had to also produce a sprawling stop to deny Ryan Thomas an equaliser.
However, any chance of grabbing a crucial point disappeared when Roy Krishna was given too much room from a short corner to fire home in the 65th minute and Krishna sealed the result four minutes later by nodding home a far post cross from substitute Ryan Howlett.
Mohammed Awad almost got a last-minute consolation after a mazy dribble but the absence of transferred top-scorer Tyler Boyd further hindered Melville's ability to find the net – they've scored just 17 goals in 13 games.
Hamilton Wanderers have no such woes at the other end of the table – while they've only netted 23 times, they've conceded just 19 and kept another clean sheet at home on Saturday when they saw off Suburbs 1-0.
Jarrod Young scored the winner in the first half at Porritt Stadium to keep Wanderers in third spot – an outstanding achievement for the Mark Cossey-coached outfit.
Things are looking far brighter too for Ngaruawahia United in Division One.
As predicted a few weeks ago, Ngaruawahia have looked a different side when finally near full strength and thumped Mt Albert Ponsonby 4-1 at Centennial Park on Saturday.
Jason Chewins, Tim Kautai, Nicky Sikongo and an own goal got on the scoresheet for the hosts, who are now seventh of 12 teams in a tightly-packed league.
In Division Two, Matamata Swifts came from a goal down at halftime to draw 1-1 at Matamata Domain with Papakura City.
Swifts keeper Tom Pamment limited the damage in a first half dominated by the visitors, who scored midway through the first spell, but the hosts put in a much-improved second spell, levelled through Jack McNab and then came close to snatching a winner. Swifts are eighth in the 12-team league, with Saturday's stalemate being their sixth in 16 matches.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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