Cen­tral in po­si­tion to keep ti­tle

Central Leader - - Sport - By Jeremy Ruane

Cen­tral United are just one win away from re­tain­ing their North­ern Premier Foot­ball League crown.

The reign­ing champs im­proved their chances of com­ing out on top af­ter they thrashed league leaders East­ern Sub­urbs 4-0 at Madills Farm on Satur­day.

A Mi­los Nikolic hat-trick and a goal from Josh Ming helped the San­dring­ham club get re­venge on Sub­urbs, who de­feated them 3-1 just three weeks ago.

The victory puts Cen­tral on the brink of back-to-back cham­pi­onships, which would give them their third premier ti­tle in five sea­sons.

As for East­ern Sub­urbs, the loss leaves them con­tem­plat­ing the prospect of a sec­ond or third place fin­ish for the fourth sea­son run­ning af­ter com­plet­ing all their matches in the cam­paign.

While it is still pos­si­ble for Sub­urbs to win the league for the first time in 42 years, they’ll be re­ly­ing on Cen­tral to lose one of two catch-up games against Bay Olympic and Tau­ranga City in the com­ing weeks.

Mean­while, Three Kings are star­ing down the bar­rel of rel­e­ga­tion af­ter they were beaten 5-1 by Cen­tral in an­other catch-up match last Tues­day.

And they were beaten again on Satur­day, go­ing down 3-0 to Tau­ranga City.

Mt Al­bert-Pon­sonby have also been con­demned to first divi­sion foot­ball in 2009, thanks to a 5-1 thrash­ing from Melville United.

Lynn-Avon United man­aged to clinch third place on the com­pe­ti­tion lad­der af­ter thump­ing next-door neigh­bours Bay Olympic 4-0.

Peter Nor­ris and Jono Key were both on tar­get for Lyn­nAvon, as was An­drew Camp­bell, with a two goal haul.

On Fri­day night an in­jury­hit Metro squad staved off the chal­lenge of One­hunga Sports 2-1.

In first divi­sion action, West­ern Springs held third­placed Eller­slie to a 1-1 draw, while Fen­ci­bles downed One­hunga-Man­gere United 3-1.

Sev­eral lo­cal der­bies take place next Satur­day.

With the cham­pi­onship at stake, Cen­tral’s visit to Bay Olympic at Olympic Park is the key match in a round of resched­uled fix­tures.

Lynn-Avon will play Three Kings at Ken Maun­der Park, while Mt Al­bert-Pon­sonby host Melville at An­der­son Park and One­hunga Sports face a re­match against Metro at Waikaraka Park.

One­hunga-Man­gere and West­ern Springs clash this Satur­day as they con­clude their re­spec­tive first divi­sion cam­paigns at Man­gere Do­main.

All matches 2.45pm.

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Photo: SHANE WENZLICK.

On at­tack: Cen­tral striker Mi­los Nikolic goes one on one with Sub­urbs keeper Clay­ton Chap­pell in their premier foot­ball match on Satur­day.

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