Local Soccer: It's 2nd vs 3rd as Haifa hosts Netanya

Haifa is unbeaten in its last 10 matches since a 2-1 defeat to Netanya when the teams first met this season at the end of October.

maccabi netanya 88 (photo credit: )
maccabi netanya 88
(photo credit: )
Second-placed Maccabi Netanya visits third placed Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium while Ashdod SC hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv in a six-point relegation battle in the Premier League on Saturday. Netanya, which leapfrogged Haifa into second position last week thanks to a stoppage time winner against Maccabi Tel Aviv, has kept a clean sheet in its last six matches, but will have its work cut out against a Haifa team which is just second to reigning champion Betar Jerusalem in the goals scored department. Haifa, which could only manage a 1-1 draw at Ironi Kiryat Shmona last week, is unbeaten in its last 10 matches since a 2-1 defeat to Netanya when the teams first met this season at the end of October. "We're a much better team now. We are playing better and have gathered momentum, which we hope to continue on Saturday," Haifa coach Roni Levy said. "We're expecting a very difficult match and hopefully we can return to winning ways at home." Hapoel Tel Aviv's match against Ashdod is nothing short of crucial to both teams, with one Hapoel player even going as far as saying that "if we lose this match there's a 90 percent chance we'll be relegated". Tel Aviv has shown some encouraging signs since Bulgarians Elin Topuzakov and Dimitar Telkiyski joined in the transfer window, winning two of its last four matches. The team, however, is desperately struggling to find any kind of consistency and is tied on points with the league's two bottom sides Bnei Yehuda and Ashdod. Ashdod is winless in its last 10 matches, with its last victory coming against Hapoel at Bloomfield Stadium in October. The team has lost eight of its last 10 games and will be hoping the signing of homegrown Moshe Ohayon from Swiss club Winterthur FC on Thursday will inject some much needed enthusiasm into the side. Guy Luzon will guide Maccabi Petah Tikva on Saturday for the first time since re-signing as coach of the club during the week. Luzon, who was pushed out of Hapoel Tel Aviv after claiming just one win in 10 league matches, faces Bnei Yehuda, which defeated Ashdod 3-2 last week for its first win in 12 matches. Also Saturday, Hapoel Kfar Saba hosts Kiryat Shmona and Maccabi Herzliya visits Bnei Sakhnin. On Sunday, Betar Jerusalem plays Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield in the final game of Matchday 18. Betar was forced to train indoors on Thursday after its training ground was covered by snow during the night.