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A tight scrap is looming for the most coveted spots in southern football this year.
There is a tie at the top of the table and another two sides are close behind as the Southern Premier League reaches its halfway point.
The South City Royals and Otago University jointly lead on 16 points after the first full round of seven games.
Green Island is next on on 12, while Roslyn Wakari is a place back on 11.
Beyond that, Queenstown is on eight, while Wanaka (five), Mosgiel (four) and Northern (one) make up the bottom four — the latter two with a game in hand.
There is more at stake in the contest for the top three spots this year.
Those teams qualify for this year’s Southern Conference of the new national league.
They will link with the top five Mainland teams and play a single-round league.
From there, the top two South Island teams will play in a national league at the end of the year.
It will also give them a future spot in that South Island league which will operate above the SPL with promotion-relegation in place.
University beat South City 2-0 in the top-of-the-table match-up in the first round.
However, it later dropped a midweek fixture 5-0 to Green Island.
It was one of many occasions in which Green Island has shown its ability to score goals.
Last year’s champion has found the net 28 times this season, more than any other team.
Only South City and Roslyn have held it to fewer than three goals in a game.
In Adam Hewson it has the league’s most prolific goal-scorer so far, the young former Southern United player bagging 10 goals.
Following him are four players on five goals — team-mate Thomas Milton, South City Royals duo Ryan Fleming and Connor Neil, and University’s Yun Sung Chang.
In the Mainland Premier League, which is also one round in, Cashmere Technical is shaping as a likely favourite on 19 points.
The side is unbeaten after seven games, having been held to just one draw, by Christchurch United.
Coastal Spirit trails on 16 points, while Christchurch United is on 14.
A scrap for the final two spots looks likely as only one point separates Nelson Suburbs on 10 and Nomads United and Ferrymead Bays on nine.