The top three teams in the ISPS Handa Premiership all recorded wins on January 21, as the five games played produced twenty-four goals and victories for all but one of the travelling sides.
The exception was witnessed at Jerry Collins Stadium, where reigning champions Team Wellington held off the challenge of Hawkes Bay United 2-1, despite finishing the game with ten men on the park.
Bay suffered an early setback with the loss of striker Samuel Adjei to injury inside the first twelve minutes, but it didn't put the visitors off their stride, and they would have been disappointed to go to the dressing rooms without a goal to show for their efforts, having made all the running attack-wise during the first half.
The title-holders emerged intent on changing the balance of proceedings in the second spell, and Andy Bevin's 54th minute shot, signalled their intentions. Reuben Parker's fine save kept the home team at bay on this occasion, but fifteen minutes later, Roy Kayara found a way past him to open the scoring.
Fifteen minutes from time, new recruit Ross Allen opened his account for the table-toppers, and it proved to be a vital goal. For not only did Bay pull one back five minutes from time through Sam St. De Croix, the home team concluded proceedings with ten men on the park thanks to Sekou Diane committing his second bookable offence of the match in the dying minutes.
Team Wellington's goal difference advantage over Eastern Suburbs was trimmed to just one after "The Lilywhites" prevailed 5-3 over Hamilton Wanderers in a goal-fest at Porritt Stadium.
Derek Tieku got the visitors off to the perfect start, and Moses Dyer doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time. But when Armin Pasagic potted an early second half penalty, the bottom-placed side were right back in it.
Sadly for Hamilton, a quick-fire brace from Andre de Jong and Matthew Palmer put Suburbs in an unassailable position, and while the home team fought back via goals from Liam Hayes and Tommy Semmy to set up a grandstand finish, Dyer had the last laugh to maintain his team's share of the league lead.
Two points behind the front-runners are Auckland City, for whom Emiliano Tade struck twice in the first half - the second an exquisite free-kick on the stroke of half-time - as they prevailed 2-0 over Canterbury United at English Park.
Coey Turipa made a fine save to keep out what would have been an own goal seven minutes into the contest, then produced an even better save to thwart Tade seven minutes before half-time, the Argentine having struck his opener half-way through the half.
Canterbury produced a better second half display, one in which referee Cory Mills made a few decisions which puzzled the natives, but City kept "The Dragons" at arm's length to record a vital victory and conclude the Cantabrians' recent resurgent run of form.
United remain in fourth spot, ahead of Tasman United on goal difference after they scored a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Southern United at Sunnyvale Park, where Stephen Last headed home the opening goal from a corner after Sam Carmichael and Hamish Cotter had gone close to breaking the deadlock for the home side.
The offside flag prevented Southern from doubling their advantage soon afterwards, but seven minutes before half-time the visitors drew level via Daniel Allan's headed goal from a corner.
On the stroke of half-time, Tasman hit the front courtesy a Paul Ifill penalty, and he also hit the side-netting before the visitors notched their third goal of the game, Maksym Kowal tucking home the first of his two goals before a stoppage time strike from Alex Ridsdale - against his former club - offered Southern some consolation.
That Tasman find themselves in a share of fourth place is due in part to Waitakere United squandering a golden chance to claim it for themselves at Trusts Arena, where they threw away a half-time lead in losing 3-2 at the hands of Wellington Phoenix.
United's Ryan Cain and Wellington's Hamish Watson exchanged goals in a sixty-second burst just before the half-hour mark, while after Dylan Manickum rattled the crossbar for the home team, Keegan Linderboom rattled the roof of the net three minutes before half-time to give Waitakere a 2-1 lead.
Wellington were back on level terms eight minutes into the second half when Julyan Collett's wayward back-pass sailed over the head of Liam Anderson into his own net. It certainly didn't aid Waitakere's cause, but worse was to come - Stewart Mackay was sent off for committing his second bookable offence nine minutes from time, leaving United down to ten for the duration.
They couldn't hold on for the point, with Ollie Whyte striking six minutes from time to clinch the points for Wellington, who've drawn level with eighth-placed Southern on the back of a rare weekend for the club, with both their teams gracing the winner's circle.
A pivotal game in the race for the top two spots takes place at William Green Domain on Wednesday night as "The Lilywhites" and the "Navy Blues" lock horns in a match which neither side can really afford to lose.
Then it's onto the Auckland Anniversary weekend round of action, even there are no matches scheduled anywhere in New Zealand's home of football across the entire weekend!
There's one match on Saturday, with Tasman welcoming Team Wellington to Saxton Field, while the other matches take place on Sunday, led by the 1pm encounter between Hawkes Bay and Suburbs at Palmerston North's Memorial Park.
Canterbury entertain Wellington Phoenix at English Park while Southern welcome Waitakere to Sunnyvale Park in the 2pm fixtures, while in the televised encounter at 4.35pm, Hamilton welcome Auckland to Links Avenue in Mt. Maunganui.
Canterbury United 0, Auckland City 2 (E. Tade (22, 45)) HT 0-2
Hamilton Wanderers 3 (A. Pasagic (pen), L. Hayes, T. Semmy), Eastern Suburbs 5 (D. Tieku, M. Dyer (2), A. de Jong, M. Palmer) HT 0-2
Southern United 2 (S. Last (24), A. Ridsdale (90)), Tasman United 4 (D. Allan (38), P. Ifill (44 pen), M. Kowal (68, 86)) HT 1-2
Team Wellington 2 (R. Kayara (69), R. Allen (75)), Hawkes Bay United 1 (S. St.. De Croix (85)) HT 0-0
Waitakere United 2 (R. Cain (27), K. Linderboom (42)), Wellington Phoenix 3 (H. Watson (28), "oggie" (53), O. White (84)) HT 2-1