The Canterbury United Dragons extinguished the playoff hopes of Hamilton Wanderers, with a comprehensive 4-2 win on the road and at the same time virtually guaranteed their own spot in the post-season.
The Dragons made the perfect start as Maksym Kowal gave the Canterbury side an early lead with a sweetly-struck volley on the 8-minute mark, before the home side struck back mid-way through the first half when Derek Tieku hit his first goal of the campaign.
Parity lasted just a few minutes though, captain Gary Ogilvie slamming home from the spot to give Canterbury a 2-1 half-time lead. Hamilton’s season then appeared dead and buried early in the second spell when Kowal helped himself to a brace at the second attempt, but the door opened for the hosts again in spectacular fashion when Joe Nottage found the bottom corner with a sensational volley.
Despite Hamilton’s best efforts, that proved no more than false hope though as Canterbury went on to secure the points by adding a fourth through Stephen Hoyle’s tenth of the season.
The Cantabrians, who could still finish second themselves, now need only to be wary of the threat of fellow South Islanders Southern United, who still have an outside chance of wrestling away their play-off berth and face a visit by title-chasing Auckland City on Wednesday evening.
The Dragons will be at home this Sunday (February 17) when they take on former Dragon, Aaron Clapham’s resurgent Team Wellington side at 2pm.
For the ISPS Handa Premiership table please click here
ISPS Handa Premiership Match Week 16
Auckland City 2 (David Browne 24’, Yousif Ali 52’)
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 1 (Justin Gulley 61’)
Team Wellington 3 (Ross Allen 33’, pen 45+1’, Aaron Clapham 38’)
Eastern Suburbs 1 (Callum McCowatt 27’)
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Derek Tieku 28’, Joe Nottage 62’)
Canterbury United Dragons 4 (Maksym Kowal 8’, 53’, Gary Ogilvie pen 32’, Stephen Hoyle 72’)
Southern United vs Auckland City
Sunnyvale Park, Dunedin
Wednesday 13 February, 5.30pm