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NZFC - Round 4, Croatian Club, Sunday 25 Nov
Keryn Jordan 80
|Benjamin Totori 56|
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: Peter O'Leary Crowd: 2200
By Bob Pearce at the Croatian Club, Te Atatu
The bookies had Waitakere United as a long shot to beat Auckland City and it was a long shot that earned them a well-deserved 1-1 draw today.
Nobody takes any prisoners in clashes between these two cross-town rivals and they had battled aggressively for 56 minutes with nothing on the scoreboard when Waitakere midfielder Christopher Bale unleashed a powerful low drive from all of 40 metres.
Auckland City goalkeeper Tamati Williams was caught unawares and the ball eluded his grasp, spun through his legs and the grateful Benjamin Totori helped it on its way into the net.
The prospect of Waitakere's first win over their rivals on the field in the national league stunned the big crowd at the Croatian Cultural Centre and Williams was forced into a fine save to thwart Commins Menapi when he threatened to apply the coup de grace.
But relief for Auckland City came from a familiar quarter. With 10 minutes to go, Keryn Jordan, who had been kept quiet by some resolute defending from Danny Hay and his cohorts, managed to create some space for himself on the fringe of the penalty area for a clear shot that found the back of the net.
There was still time for Waitakere to snatch that elusive win but Jason Hayne blasted over an open goal with five minutes to go and the defence in tatters.
Auckland coach Colin Tuaa was philosophical but disappointed in a game which did not flow as he would have liked.
"Waitakere are a fairly direct side but you've got to cope with that," he said. "Their goal was a clanger and you just can't give away goals like that.
"I always knew that if we kept knocking it around, the chances would come."
Waitakere coach Chris Milicich saw the game as good preparation for the team's big date in Japan in a couple of weeks when they vie for a place in the World Club Championship.
"We played really well and we certainly had more chances than them. It was exactly the hard game we needed before we go to Japan. They didn't hold back. They gave everything and that's all you can ask.
"We were written off at the start of the season but we've worked hard. It's a long season but we're getting there."
From the first yellow card in the opening minutes, the rivalry between these two teams was apparent and it says much for the refereeing of Peter O'Leary that football was the winner on the day, as the cliché goes.
Auckland City had the better of the first half but Jordan and Grant Young were well contained by a swarming defence in which Bale, Hay, Neil Sykes and Darren Bazeley were prominent.
When the game opened up in the second spell, Totori and Menapi began to combine and offer a scoring threat. A series of corners for Waitakere could well have produced more goals and with the injured Neil Emblen restored to the lineup shortly this could be a productive area.
Waitakere now face a rejuvinated YoungHeart Manawatu next Saturday in their final hit out before the Club World Cup while Auckland travel south to take on Waikato FC in Hamilton the day after.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
NZFC - Round 4, Croatian Club
Sunday 25 November 2007, 3:00
12 Tamati Williams
22 Simon Eaddy
5 Ben Sigmund
2 Jonathan Perry
6 Ki-Hyung Lee
5 Danny Hay
7 James Pritchett
6 Darren Bazeley
8 Chad Coombes
7 Jason Hayne
10 Grant Young
8 Commins Menapi
14 Keryn Jordan
9 Benjamin Totori
15 Jeff Campbell
10 Allan Pearce
17 Bryan Little
11 Neil Sykes
20 Greg Uhlmann
15 Christopher Bale
26 Rupesh Puna
33 Paul Seaman
1 Ross Nicholson
1 Richard Gillespie
9 Paul Urlovic (70 for Young)
3 Shane Pascoe
11 Luiz Del Monte
4 Matt Cunneen
18 Henry Fa'arodo (70 for Coombes)
13 Daniel Koprivcic (78 for Menapi)
21 Riki Van Steeden
14 Hoani Edwards
=2 yellow cards
= red card
yellow card for Bale tackle on Lee
Eaddy saves at feet of Young
Sykes freekick williams punches clear
Lee shoots wide
Hayne heads over top
Jeff Campbell long-range freekick, wide
Allan Pearce yellow card for foul tackle
Perry header from corner cleared, second corner punched by Williams, third corner cleared
Coombes shot blocked by Eaddy
series of Waitakere corners cleared
Shot by Seaman just wide
45 plus 1
Menapi yellow for rough challenge
Uhlmann yellow for tackle on Seaman
Campbell freekick saved by Eaddy
GOAL!! Bale shoots from 40 metres, Williams mishandles, Totori taps loose ball in.
Campbell narrowly wide with shot
Williams saves well from Menapi
Urlovic on for Young and Fa'arodo for Coombes
Koprivcic on for Menapi
Fa'arodo yellow for elbow
GOAL!! Jordan turns on edge of penalty area and buries shot
Hayne over the top of open goal
90 plus one
Williams saves at feet of Totori. Yellow for Sigmund for holding. Freekick cleared
. FINAL WHISTLE
1-1, points shared