ASB Premiership - Semi-Final 1st Leg,
Newtown Park, Wellington
Sunday 15th April 2012
Johnny Raj 33'
Halftime: 1-0 Referee: Mirko Benischke Crowd: 427
by Gordon Glen Watson at Newtown Park
Victory marked Team Wellington’s first win over a top four side this season and provided coach Matt Calcott and his charges with a timely confidence boost ahead of next Sunday’s semi-final second leg at Kiwitea Street.
Coach Matt Calcott was delighted with the result but was unsurprisingly cautious about discussing a Grand Finals berth but reserved special praise for both goalkeepers.
“We matched Auckland for chances in front of goal but Spoonley made some good saves as did Phil Imray. This side has got some attacking players that we possibly haven’t had in the past,” Calcott said.
The first half was a stop-start affair with neither side settling into a rhythm until the 33rd minute when Johnny Raj headed Wellington into the lead from a Luke Rowe free-kick.
Auckland could have drawn level just two minutes later when Luis Corrales whipped over a pinpoint cross that Adam Dickinson headed wide of Phil Imray’s left hand upright.
Impressive for Team Wellington was 29-year-old Solomon Islands international Henry Fa’arodo who provided an important link between midfield and attack in an energetic home team performance.
City coach Ramon Tribulietx rejigged his side when he introduced Ivan Diaz for Andrew Milne just after halftime with Riera stationed at right back.
The effect was immediate as Auckland City opened the second half at an increased tempo and created a handful of decent chances the best of which saw midfielder Albert Riera steer a header onto the post from a David Mulligan free-kick, Phil Imray palming the rebound clear on 57 minutes.
Ten minutes later, Fa’arodo snatched the ball from Mulligan and sped toward goal before unleashing a stinging shot that a full stretch Jacob Spoonley tipped around the post for a corner.
The match opened up midway through the second half and All Whites veteran Ivan Vicelich rescued his side when he blocked a Darren Cheriton cross as an unmarked Dakota Lucas sped into vacant real estate at the far post.
Had Vicelich not been at hand, Wellington were a sure bet to double the lead.
The full cost of that missed opportunity was almost realised in the dying moments when Manel Exposito lifted the ball over his marker and forced Imray into a wonderful save with a clever shot with only seconds left.
Wellington coach Matt Calcott noted the emotional weight of a missed second goal that would have stretched this tie further from the O-League champions reach.
The result is Auckland City’s third of the season and second in recent weeks. It’s the first time a New Zealand club has bettered the Aucklanders since last season’s ASB Premiership Grand Final defeat to Waitakere United.
Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx was philosophical in defeat with the tie poised on a knife-edge.
“This result is going to prove the strength of our team. A loss never comes at a good time. Hopefully we can overcome it next week,” Tribulietx said, “We’ve reached the semi-finals of the ASB Premiership and the O-League final which were key objectives before the season started.”
1. Phil Imray
1. Jacob Spoonley
4. Michael Eager
3. Ian Hogg
5. Johnny Raj
5. Angel Berlanga
6. Darren Cheriton
8. David Mulligan
9. Patrick Fleming
9. Manel Exposito
10. Dakota Lucas
10. Luis Corrales (off 66)
11. Henry Fa'arodo
11. Daniel Koprivcic
17. Dominic Rowe (off 58)
14. Adam Dickinson
19. James Musa
15. Ivan Vicelich
20. Luke Rowe
16. Albert Riera
22. Justin Gulley
22. Andrew Milne (off 51)
2. Tim Schaeffers
13. Alex Feneridis (on 66)
7. Wiremu Patrick
17. Adam McGeorge
12. Ethan Galbraith (on 58)
21. Ivan Diaz (on 51)
18. Michael Fifii
23. Simon Arms
25. Scott Basalaj
12. Liam Anderson
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Play by Play
Welcome to an overcast and a little chilly Newtown Park. Weather is fine but it's not exactly toasty.
The sides are out and in huddles. Not many in the crowd today.
Superb tackle from Eager let's Wellington break but Dakota Lucas' ball in from wide can't meet anone in the middle and it's easily picked up by Spoonley.
Dickinson tries to feed Exposito but Raj cuts the ball out to screams of anguish from Exposito. Thought it was Monica Seles for a minute.
Mulligan puts Luis Corrales in space wide and he beats Musa but Raj again beats the central players to the ball.
Eager with another cracking tackle breaks up a City attack.
Ian Hogg making friends by shoving Justin Gulley in to the Shot Put cage as he shields the ball out.
James Musa is down after a head clash with Adam Dickinson. He looks blurry. he's going to carry on but his holding his head.
Rowe makes room down the left and gets a good ball in but Patrick Fleming heads straight at Spoonley.
Riera through ball puts Exposito one on one with Imray who pulls off a great save.
Corrales fould Fa'arodo in the centre circle and referee Benischke has words.
Eager fouls Dickinson wide left and Auckland have a free kick about 12 yards out along the sideline. Mulligan's free kick is easily cleared by Dom Rowe.
Fleming ball wide plays in Dakota Lucas who crosses but the ball in isn't as good as the run. Meanwhile the referee has seen a foul off the ball by Rowe on Milne.
Team Wellington in again but they are caught offside by an intelligent City defence.
They're running two or three players at Rowe and Corrales pace is paying dividends but the centre of the Team Wellington defence is holding strong.
Corrales again but he takes the shot this time but Imray has it easily.
Corrales talking his way in to a card here. Been summoned by the referee for a telling off.
Through ball is too long to Lucas but Spoonley mis-controls it and Lucas is on him and he just manages to clear it out. From the throw Milne goes right through Luke Rowe. The resulting fre kick doesn't clear the first man.
This time it's Dickinson with the foul on Dom Rowe at halfway. Fouls building against the visitors.
Bit of a midfield battle for a while. CIty with a long range shot that is well wide after they couldn't find the hole they needed.
First card of the day as Luis Corrales goes through Luke Rowe again. He's going to need to watch himself here.
Luke Rowe free kick from the fould ends up on the head of Johnny Raj to put the home side up. Spoonley got a hand to it but couldn't turn it around the post.
City break after Eager truns the ball over in midfield. Good cross from Hogg but Dickinson sends it wide of Imray's left post.
Fa'arodo booked for a dive as Riera comes flying in at him and he left his feet.
Dominic Rowe wins an attcking header but Lucas is cut out by Riera before he can get a shot in. City have had a couple of chance but have been caught offside twice in the last five minutes.
Resulting corner can't fashion a chance.
Corrales and Exposito have swapped here with Exposito down the right. He's not looking as dangerous.
Another foul by city but the free kick nowhere near as threatening.
Corrales tries to put Mulligan in but a retreating Fa'arodo pulls off a great tackle on the edge of the area.
City attack again. This time the through ball to Dickinson is long. There was a hint of offside not given there.
One minute of added time.
Linesman Lount signals a foul against Luke Rowe from a great tackle. Threatening chance for the visitors but it's headed clear by the defence.
That's the half. 1-0 to the home side. Vicelich wanders off having a running argument with team Wellington coach Matt Calcott.
No changes at the half. The sun has made an appearance but it's still a little nippy.
Team Wellington with a couple of early chances. A free kick that is easily taken by Spoonley, the Dom Rowe is called offside in what looked a questionable decision.
Raj in book for a tackle in midfield. Delivered about a minute later when somewhat frenetic play has ended. Both sides on attack but breaking down just as they enter the attacking third.
Cheriton played in and tries to lob SPoonley, misses by miles but was well offside anyway.
Both sides needing to find some composure here.
Corrales back on the right and beats two men but his ball in isn't met.
SUB : Andrew Milne of Ivan Diaz on.
Team Wellington have a couple of threatening chances but are crowded out and City break. Dickinson runs through the heart of defence but the constant harrying from Musa gives Imray a chance to get out and take it off his toes.
Exposito makes a break but is called offside. Again that looked a bit questionable.
Free kick City wide right. Mulligan puts the ball in, header Riera but it hits the upright and just as it looks in, imray throws an arm up to send it up and out of the goalmouth.
SUB: Dom Rowe off for Ethan Galbraith.
Referee decides a Gulley tackle wide right was a foul. Resulting free kick is straight on the forehead of Fleming who clears, then as Wellington look to break Fa'arodo is cleaned up by Vicelich stopping the break.
So with the Diaz change Riera has gone to right back and Diaz into the midfield. The Galbraith change is a straight swap for Rowe.
Auckland chance, Raj gets a toe to it but just out to Kroprivcic but Imray easily takes it just under the crossbar.
Corrales off for Feneridis.
Mulligan loses the ball in midfield and Fa'arodo breaks he has Berlangs twisiting and turning and shoots from 18 yards. Spoonley gets down to send it around the post.
The resulting corner goes over Spoonley and has to be cleared out for another corner on the outside post.
The next corner comes out to Lucas who shoots and just shen it looks in Spoonley throws a leg at it and sends it over. Great save.
Four corners in a row to team Wellington here but nothing quite good enough for a goal.
City break but are again crowded wide. They do always look dangerous with the second line of attack. THis time Diaz takes a long shot but it's well wide.
Feneridis in the book for a tackle on Galbraith. Looked a little harsh.
The home side break. Fa'arodo on to a Gulley ball, Cheriton runs the line and looks for Lucas but Ivan clears up and heads it wide of his own goal.
Galbraith in the book for a collision with Expositio. and is followed by Koprivcic.
Shirts off in the commentary box. Bruce Cullen well into it.
Berlanga loses the ball to galbraith who beats him for pacebut hits the sidenetting from an angle.
Sorry folks. Web engine lost everyting after 80 here. Chances at both ends. A stunning save from Imray of Exposito, a card for Mulligan.
...and that's all. A 1-0 win to the home side. That will give them some confidence for next week. They certainly gave as good as they got again vs City.