ASB Premiership - Week 10,
Aaron Clapham (pen) 12'
Stu Kelly 22'
Halftime: 1-2 Referee: Chris Kerr Crowd:380
by John Donnachie at Linfield Park
Auckland City underlined their play-off credentials with a commanding victory in Christchurch today.
The Aucklanders looked every bit the city slickers, condemning Canterbury United to their third successive defeat.
The sun-drenched crowd at Linfield Park, were treated to a great first half as both sides opted for an all out attacking approach. The visitors threatened to overrun Canterbury in the opening stages, but it was the Dragons' who got of to the best possible start.
Striker Russell Kamo was brought down in the box on 11 minutes, and Aaron Clapham was on hand to convert his second spot-kick of the season with a decisive finish, wrong-footing city keeper Jacob Spoonley.
Auckland though, continued to throw men forward, full-back Ian Hogg was a constant threat with his darting runs down the flank, while All White midfielder David Mulligan and Spanish import, striker Manuel Esposito, kept the Dragons' rearguard on their toes.
Inevitably, the pressure paid off, and Auckland were level. Mulligan picked out Angel Berlanga with a precise free-kick inside the six yard box, Berlanga's goal-bound touch caused a goalmouth scramble, which finished with former Dragons' favourite Stu Kelly poking the ball home.
Canterbury quickly got over this setback, and almost went in front again when the busy Clapham combined with Andrew Barton, but Spoonley foiled Clapham with a brave save at the midfielder's feet.
However, the Dragons' hopes were dashed by a crazy five minute spell just before the interval.
First, Auckland front-man Daniel Koprivcic showed great awareness and control, turning inside the box before firing a crisp shot home from 15 yards out- inside Canterbury keeper Tom Batty's far post.
Next, and worse still, Dragons' midfielder Joe Murray saw red for the second time this season after he clattered into City fullback Ian Hogg who was bearing in on goal. It was Murray's second bookable offence inside just two minutes.
As in previous weeks, following red-card dismissals, Canterbury were never able to recover. Auckland themselves were reduced to ten men just after the interval, when the impressive Manuel Esposito was sent packing for a second bookable offence, after handling the ball while he was in the opposition box.
Afterward United coach Keith Braithwaite, expressed his disappointment, at his side's indiscipline after being reduced to ten men, during a critical stage in the match.
“We have no complaints with the decision (Murray's sending-off). Again today we were forced to change the formation.
"I still believe we can make the play-offs, fourth position is what we will aim for now. Every game is huge now, but our destiny is still in our own hands.
'You can't argue with that today, Auckland are a good side. I thought they moved the ball well and they were very composed. That's the best I've seen them play. I think they are better side than what they were last season.”
Auckland co-coach Ramon Tribulietx, was not only delighted with the three points, but with also the style of the win.
“To have two weeks break, and then come down to play like that in Canterbury, is very satisfying.
"The way we played I felt we dominated throughout. We kept possession well even after going down to ten men, and I don't think they caused us any danger in the second half.”
Certainly, on the evidence of the first half, the Aucklanders are a very capable outfit. They already look genuine play-off contenders and on this performance, they could be the team to challenge runaway ASB Premiership leaders, champions Waitakere United.
The visitors had stand-outs all over the field. Left back Ian Hogg was industrious, while David Mulligan and James Pritchett controlled the midfield. Upfront the movement of goalscorer Daniel Koprivcic and Manuel Esposito, posed a constant menace to the Canterbury defence.
For the Dragons', young academy player Andrew Barton was always willing, as was the effervescent Aaron Clapham who never gave up.
1. Tom Batty (GK)
1. Jacob Spoonley (GK)
2. Dan Terris (c)
2. Angel Berlanga
3. Nick Wortelboer
3. Ian Hogg
4. Gareth Rowe
6. Stuart Kelly
5. Tom Schwarz
7. James Pritchett
7. Aaron Clapham
8. David Mulligan (Thomas 63')
9. Russell Kamo (Tippert 76')
9. Manuel Exposito
11. Ryan Faichnie
11. Daniel Koprivcic (Morgan 85')
14. Joe Murray
13. Alex Feneridis
23. Andrew Barton (McDermott 46')
14. Adam Dickinson (Milne 73')
25. Andy Pitman (Collins 61')
15. Ivan Vicelich (c)
6. Glen Collins (in 61')
12. Patrick George (RGK)
13. Garry McDermott (in 46')
4. Sam Campbell
17. Ryan Tippett (in 76')
19. Daniel Morgan (in 85')
19. Jeremy Wild
23. Andrew Milne (in 73')
22. Coey Turipa (RGK)
22. Adam Thomas (in 63')
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Play by Play
Happy New Year everyone and welcome to Linfield Park in Christchurch. The weather conditions are fine with clear skies and a temperature around 20 degrees. This game promises to be an intriguing match-up, with the race for the play-off spots heating up. Canterbury will especially be keen to get the year off to a winning start. After a promising start to the season, the Dragons'have lost their way of late. The visitors Auckland meanwhile will be confident after posting successive wins before the festive break. They have since moved into the top three of the league and now look certain play-off contenders. Canterbury welcome back skipper Dan Terris and stalwart Andy Pitman. Auckland will be without hatrick hero Adam McGeorge from their last outing- who is suspended.
Match line-ups to follow. Almost underway, glorious day here in Canterbury as both teams going through final preparations.
Alex Fenerdis brings a save out of Canty Keeper Tom Batty from 15 yards out.
The visitors looking lively at the start..dangerous cross from Hogg causes problems in home defence.
Hogg races into Canty box and shoots towards goal, Batty collects easily at second attempt
It's all Auckland Prichett goes down 20 yards out but no foul. Then Exposito trys a shot from edge of the box-just over the bar
Free-kick Canty 25 yards out but Claqpham hits wall and is cleared
PENALTY Canty Kamo goes down inside the box. Clapham scores with well taken penalty wrong-footing Spoonley
Canty goal under siege immeadiately, Exposito brings save out of Batty at near post
Auckland behind but Kelly and Esposito exchange passes but Canty clear danger
Auckland playing neat football through the midfield but Canty coping for the moment
Freekick Auckland, 25 yards out Mulligan's freekick blocked-Hogg fires over
Another freekick Auckland
GOAL Well worked freekick Mulligan picks out Berlanga inside six yard box -Goalmouth scramble and Kelly gets final touch
Clapham almost plays in Kamo
Esposito again threatens for visitors but is just off target
Corner Auck. comes to nothing
Hogg causing problems again for home defence.. good run and cross but Batty gathers
Canty trying to impose themselves in the midfield but Auckland seem in control
Great Clapham pass picks out Barton who then crosses Clapham gets return inside the box Spoonley gets down bravely at his feet and saves
GOAL Koprivcic scores for Auckland good control and turn 15 yards out and shoots past Batty inside far post.
more drama here.. Murray is booked and then SENT OFF within 2 minutes He walks following a challenge on Ian Hogg who was running towards the Canty Box
Fenerdis shot deflected over the top. Corner saved by Batty
Esposito booked for rash challenge on Canty's wing man Andrew Barton
It's Half Time here at Linfield Park what a half that was.. More red card strife for Dragons' Still awaiting confirmation of Aucklanders first goal.
Underway in the second half. Garry McDermott on for Ryan Faichnie
Esposito is sensationally SENT OFF after foul for handball while he was attacking in Canty box he then is sent packing after recieving yellow card in first half.
Canty looking to get back on level terms but it is Auckland who are attacking.
Aucks Fenerdis Booked for holding onto Andy Pitman's shirt
Barton does well crosses but Spoonley saves.
Auckland on attack but Canty holding firm
Canty subsitution Collins for Pitman
Mulligan is replaced by Andrew Milne for Auckland
Canty looking lively
Hogg chases in goal puts Batty under pressure
Subsitution Auck's Dickinson makes way for Adam Thomas
Auckland defending comfortably as Canty chase equaliser- Kamo is caught offside
Frustration creeping into Canty players.
Subsitution Tippett replaces Canty striker Russell Kamo
Pritchett crosses but danger cleared
Corner Canty but Clapham's outswinger is cleared
Alot of slack passing from both sides
Disappointing second half really, after drama filled first half
Clapham overhits freekick ball runs out of play. Meanwhile, Kovpricic replaced by Daniel Morgan for Auckland
Barton almost hits target gets underneath the ball too much and fires over from edge of box- just about sums up Canty's day
Corner Auck, Batty plucks out of the air easy.
Barton again tries his luck but unable to keep ball down from 25 yards out. Tippett forces Spoonley to clear awkwardly. Lots of urgency from Canty now
3 minutes added on time
Aucks on attack deep in Canty half. They have a corner but no one up in box
FULL TIME It's all over Auckland run out 2-1 victors