In the deep south Nikita Meglinski was the toast of Otago after his 12th minute goal was the difference in the South Island derby with the Nelson Falcons. Otago will now travel up to ASB Football Park to face the conference leading Canterbury side in what is essentially a semi final clash.
YoungHeart Manawatu ended their disappointing season with a single point after a 4-2 loss at Team Wellington in their final match of the season.
Elsewhere, Auckland City survived a scare to run out 4-2 winners in the Super City derby with Waitakere United.
Only Waikato FC stands between Auckland and the northern conference spot in the grand final after the junior navy blues completed a double over their closest rivals at Fred Taylor Park.
Golden boot leader Stephen Carmichael gave Auckland a dream start with a brace of goals inside the opening 15 minutes. Nicolai Berry pulled one back for Waitakere just shy of the half hour mark and Harry Redwood evened things up shortly after halftime, only for former Waitakere midfielder Jordan Vale to pop up and net a brace of his own to secure the three points.
Auckland still sits in second place by virtue of goal difference after the Northern-based U17s travelled to Napier and came away with a 5-1 win over Hawke’s Bay United.
The winning margin flattered the young side and Darren Bazeley later admitted his man of the match was young goalkeeper Sam Copp who pulled off several saves in an impressive individual performance.
The 17s led 1-0 at the break courtesy of a Matt Ridenton goal, only for Young All Whites hopeful Angus Kilkolly to square things up with a free header inside the six-yard box.
A deliberate handball from Bjorn Christensen denied Adam Mitchell a sure goal in the 70th minute and earned the Hawke’s Bay defender an early shower. Ridenton stroked the resulting penalty home to edge ahead, before Nick Sugden added a third seven minutes.
Thomas Probert and Stuart Holthusen added a goal apiece in stoppage time to increase the margin but Bazeley’s only hope is for Waikato to win in order for the 17s to advance to the ASB Youth League grand final in a fortnight.
Waikato and Canterbury had the bye in round nine.