Westland United and Wanderers extended their gap on the remaining teams with victories in their outings on the weekend.
On Saturday, a brilliant hat-trick from full back David Ratzlaf was the catalyst for a Wanderers 6-0 win over Steel United at Swandel Park. The Blues went in 4-0 up at half time and another two in the second half sealed victory with single goals to Fellah, Dale Robinson and Arbon to round it off. In the reserves, Wanderers also enjoyed a 6-0 win to maintain top spot and set up a blockbuster match with Lions this week that could decide this seasons league champions.
Sunday's game saw Westland United victorious with a 6-2 win over Croatia at Croatia Park with another superb hat trick, this time to Daniel Rhodes. Westlands led 3-1 at half time and ran away with it in the second for a comfortable win. A brace to Papoulis and a single to Payne rounded out the scoring for the Red Devils while Sullivan and Longin scored the home sides goals. In the reserves, Westlands had a 3-0 victory over a gallant Croatia.
This weekend's games
This weekend's matches has Steel United hosting Croatia at Magill Park on Saturday with more than pride on the line. Only two points separate these clubs on the league ladder and while both would like to avoid the wooden spoon there's also association cup rankings to think about as the league season nears its end. Steel showed glimpses of what they can do last week but were overran by a well drilled Wanderers side and are desperately missing some key players still out injured.
Coach Finnigan was forced to play himself at the sweeper role and may have to for the remainder of the season. Croatia's loss to Westlands last week was probably expected and shows how important Nick Todd is at the back as they copped six goals in his absence. Drago Garma was looking at retiring last season but stayed on another year to help with numbers. What a fantastic player he has been for the club picking up 10 major trophies in the first team and reserves in his seven seasons since coming for Lions. Magill isn't an easy place to get results but Croatia should win.
Sunday's game sees Lions tackling Wanderers at Jenkins Park with the away side hoping to go three points clear with Westlands having the bye. Lions had the bye last week but in their previous match they won a thriller over Steel 3-2 and are looking to continue that form here. Marcus Dunn has been one of Lions' consistent performers this year with his eye for goal and tireless work rate. He'll be needed here as their goal scoring forward Gonzales will be unavailable.
Wanderers were missing key players last week including Aitkin, Joslyn and Ben Robinson but it didn't seem to weaken them as they brushed aside Steel 6-0.
A hat-trick last week to Ratzlaf was reward for the hard work he's put in to get back in the side after a knee injury that kept him out for nearly two months, coach Paterson will have plenty of decisions to make once everyone is fit and available. Lions seem to give Wanderers tough battles when they meet but the Blues will start favourites.