Hapoel Beersheba’s acquisition of Glynor Plet was widely ridiculed after the Dutch striker scored just a single goal in his first nine appearances for the club.

The 27-year-old was branded as being rusty and slow, but his critics have since been made to eat their words, with Plet scoring eight goals in Beersheba’s past 11 matches, helping the team to nine wins over that stretch.

Plet, who was brought to the club on the recommendation of former Genk teammate Elyaniv Barda, has found the back of the net in each of the past five games and will be hoping to continue his sizzling form when Beersheba hosts Hapoel Haifa at Vasermil Stadium on Saturday.

Beersheba can close to within a single point of Maccabi Tel Aviv and the Premier League summit with a fourth straight win, with the yellow-and-blue not hosting Beitar Jerusalem in Netanya until Monday night.

Beersheba will be playing at least a day prior to Maccabi for a third straight weekend and will be aiming to pile the pressure on the defending champion yet again.

Maccabi dropped two precious points in a 2-2 draw with Hapoel Haifa two weeks ago, but has continued to set the pace at the top, winning 13 of its past 15 contests.

“I hope we can continue winning because it is not a given that the team enters every match with a drive to win,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “Our goal is to drop as few points as possible and then see where that gets us. We just want to continue and enjoy this fantastic season.”

Hapoel Haifa snapped an eight-match winless streak with a 2-0 victory over Bnei Sakhnin on Monday. Haifa’s first victory of 2014 moved it within just three points of Sakhnin and sixth place, which leads to the championship playoffs.

The league will be split in two after every team completes a 26-game schedule next weekend. The top six will face each other twice more, while the bottom eight clubs will play one another one more time.

Hapoel Haifa (31), Beitar Jerusalem (30) and Ashdod SC (30) all still have an outside chance of leapfrogging the struggling Sakhnin (34), which has lost three straight games, winning just one of its past nine matches.

Sakhnin looks to rebound against Hapoel Ra’anana at Doha Stadium on Saturday, while Ashdod hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Also Saturday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona welcomes Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon visits Maccabi Petah Tikva in a direct showdown in the battle against relegation.

Maccabi Haifa hosts rock-bottom Bnei Yehuda on Sunday.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger