Hapoel Beersheba’s Elyaniv Barda.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba aims to put pressure on the top two in the Premier League standings with a sixth consecutive home victory on Saturday night when it hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Beersheba has picked up 16 of a possible 18 points at Vasermil Stadium so far this season, winning its past two home matches by a 4-0 score-line. Elisha Levy’s team can leapfrog two-time defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv into second place and move within a single point of league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona, with the top two not in action until Sunday and Monday.
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya on Sunday while Kiryat Shmona faces Hapoel Tel Aviv in the same stadium a day later.
Beersheba midfielder Maor Melikson is set to miss another match through injury on Saturday, but the hosts will still be confident of taking all three points against a Petah Tikva side which is kept out of the relegation zone only by goal difference.
Maccabi Haifa hosts Beitar Jerusalem on Saturday in a showdown between two reeling teams. Haifa conceded a 90th-minute equalizer against Bnei Sakhnin last weekend, and while they still sit in fourth place, the Greens are a mere five points above the bottom two and the relegation zone.
Beitar had gone unbeaten in three matches after losing three in a row, before dropping to a 3-0 defeat against Beersheba on Monday despite having a one-man advantage for the entire second half.
With a mere three wins this season, Beitar finds itself just two points off the relegation zone.
Also Saturday, Ashdod SC hosts Hapoel Haifa, Maccabi Netanya visits Maccabi Petah Tikva and Bnei Sakhnin goes to Hapoel Acre.
Meanwhile, the draw for the eighth round of the State Cup, the first in which top-flight teams participate, was made on Thursday. Maccabi Tel Aviv, which was knocked out in the eighth round last season, faces Beitar Tel Aviv/Ramle of the National League, while Beitar Jerusalem will play Hapoel Ashkelon of the third division, which is coached by former Beitar coach Yuval Naim.
There will be two all-Premier League showdowns in the eighth round, with Kiryat Shmona visiting Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Haifa hosting Ashdod SC.