Auckland City FC
NZFC - Round 5, Waikato Stadium, Sunday 2 December
Robert Gill 47 (pen)
Bryan Little 11, 85 (pen)
Halftime: 0-2 Referee: Nick Waldron Crowd: 300
by Bruce Holloway at Waikato Stadium
Waikato FC coach Roger Wilkinson felt cheated by a home 2-3 loss to New Zealand Football Championship title favourites Auckland City today.
By contrast, his Auckland City counterpart, Colin Tuua, felt it would have been an injustice if his team had not won at Waikato Stadium.
It was that sort of match, with enough incidents for the partisan to argue any proposition.
Auckland looked a million dollars as they strolled to a 2-0 lead, but then, in perhaps overdosing on their own superiority complex, needed a slightly fortuitous penalty to finally crush a stirring second-half Waikato revival and continue their unbeaten run.
Bryan Little put Auckland ahead in the 11th minute when he capitalised on some clever play from Grant Young, who turned and dinked a ball over the top for him to easily run through the middle and score.
Auckland then made it 2-0 when Waikato failed to deal with an inswinging corner from Ki-Hung Lee and Ben Sigmund nutted home after the ball was nodded back into him inside the six-yard box.
But Waikato, who had been hopelessly outplayed in all departments in the first spell, but particulalry down the right flank, struck back early in the second half.
Skipper Rob Gill should have scored when played in by Jakub Sinkora just after half time, but Tamati Williams saved with his legs.
However seconds later Waikato right back Aaron Scott muscled into the penalty box from the right and was upended by Craig Wylie. Gill put the resultant penalty into the net and it was game on.
Then, in the 67th minute Sam Wilkinson tied the game up with Waikato’s best move and the goal of the game. Waikato attacked down the left, with Gill expertly picking out Sinkora in the middle with a low cross. He teed it up for Wilkinson, who lashed it into the net from just inside the area.
Having already been booked, Wilkinson was on thin ice when he celebrated by gesticulating at some Auckland fans who had been niggling at him all afternoon.
The fourth official argued a case for a second booking for Wilkinson, but referee Nick Waldron thought better of it.
It was a bittersweet afternoon for Wilkinson, who had been with Auckland for the previous two seasons.
"Scoring that goal exorcised a lot of demons," he said. "But in the final analysis when you’ve lost the match it hardly matters."
Substitute Luiz Del Monte created several late chances for Auckland down the right flank, but the winning goal came from an unexpected quarter.
Five minutes from time the ball bounced unexpectedly in the area and struck Shaun Van Rooyen on the arm.
Little sweetly pocketed the resultant penalty kick in Dan Robinson’s right hand corner.
"I felt cheated," Roger Wilkinson said. "We had the same sort of penalty shout against Waitakere by the same ref and it was turned down.
"I was looking at 2-2 and thinking, 'let’s try (Steven) Holloway’s ankle out and see if we can win it'. Then that happens.
"But in many ways our season started with our second half showing. We showed a bit of character."
"We don’t have to be scared of anyone in this league."
Tuaa saw it differently.
"It was a fair result. We did well in the first half, then had a few things go against us," he said, pointing to the fact Auckland were reduced to 10 men with Grant Young receiving treatment when Wilkinson equalised.
"I was pleased with the way we were passing the ball around. At 2-0 up I was thinking we could have won 4-0."
Tuaa singled out centrebacks Sigmund and Greg Uhlmann for praise, though it was Lee who was at the heart of most of their best attacks, with his slick, concise passing and movement.
Defenders Dave Samson, Aaron Scott and Hone Fowler were best for Waikato.
Auckland made a late change to their starting line-up, bringing in Rupesh Puna at right back after James Pritchett injured himself during the warm-up.
Meanwhile Roger Wilkinson confirmed former Welsh U-21 striker Dale Williams was returning to the UK after failing to make an impression.
With Team Wellington having a week off due to Waitakere's FIFA Club World Cup committments, Auckland get the chance to regain the league lead when they host YoungHeart Manawatu on Saturday, while Waikato are also at home welcoming Otago United to Hamilton on Sunday.
Photos: Tony Whitehead www.wildlight.co.nz
NZFC - Round 5, Waikato Stadium
Auckland City FC
Sunday 2 December Kickoff 2pm
1. Dan Robinson (GK)
12. Tamati Williams (GK)
2. David Samson
3. Craig Wylie
3. Hone Fowler
5. Ben Sigmund
4. Jakub Sinkora
6. Ki-Hyung Lee
5. Aaron Scott
25. Rupesh Puna (off 46)
6. Sam Wilkinson
9. Paul Urlovic
8. Nathan Holten
10. Grant Young
10. Luke Findley
15. Jeff Campbell
12. Robert Gill
17. Bryan Little
14. Shaun Van Rooyen
18. Henry Fa'arodo
17. Stu Watene
20. Greg Uhlmann
9. Tom Edwards
1. Ross Nicholson (RGK)
15. Steven Holloway (83min for Findley).
8. Chad Coombes (on 46)
16. Scott Campbell
11. Luiz Del Monte (on for Urlovic 75 min)
19. Junya Nakahashi (RGK)
16. George Suri
18. Stanley Waita (on for Holten 34 min)
23. Eliezer Anello (on for young 68 min)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
0 min: It's a warm day with high cloud at Waikato Stadium, and just the faintest of breezes. Waikato are starting without their newest squad member, Jeff Sole, who is unavailable. Nathan Holten gets his first st of the season for Waikato. Henry Fa'arodo starts for Auckland. Pitch in perfect condition.
4 min: free kick against Gill afer he appeared to be taken out by keeper Tamati Williams.
6 min: Lee sets up a promising attack but urlovic fails to control inside the 6-yard box and a free kick is awarded against him.
7 min: Oops. Auckland have not lined up according to their media starting sheet. There is a mystery player in the No 25 shirt.
8 min: It's Rupesh Puna on instead of James Pritchett
11 min: GOAL!!! Through ball from a move right down the centre from a throw in and Bryan Little easily finishes.
15 min: Waikato under a lot of pressure but clear through Fowler. But Wilkinson gives it away again.
17 min: Young into the area from the left, gets around Samson but shot is blocked.
21 min: Little earns a corner. Samson clears with a header.
22 min: brilliant run from Fa'arodo, but no result. Auckland have it all over Waikato on the right flank
24 min: Urlovic foul on van Rooyen. From Watene free kick Fowler heads over the bar.
27 min: Jeff Campbell is just wide with a low drive from distance after Urlovic dummied a Lee square ball.
28 min: Wylie boots the ball out of the ground in attempting an improbable shot from a long way out.
30 min: Waikato are hardly getting a kick and can't keep the ball.
31 min: GOAL!! Wylie earns a corner. Lee swings it in, it is headed back across the goal and skipper Ben Sigmund heades into the net. 2-0.
34 min: Stanley Waita on for Nathan Holten
39 min: Puna is booked for a bad tackle on Findley, Free kick from Watene collected by Williams.
41 min Retreating Sigmund runs over the ball to delay a free kick being quickly taken. Ref Nick Waldron doesn't mind.
45 min: Fowler has a blistering shot go just wide after Waikato's best move of the match.
Halftime: 0-2 to Auckland.
46 min: Coombes on for Puna
47 min: PENALTY. Aaron Scott brought down by Craig Wylie after muscling into the box. GOAL!! Gill slams it home and it's game on again after huge Auckland dominance. 1-2.
48 min: Wilkinson booked for a foul on Wylie.
56 min: Samson stops a promising Little run with a clean tackle. Waikato are coming back into it.
57 min: Sinkora volley is tipped over the bar by Williams from a complicated Waikato free kick.
59 min: Waita threads a ball through but Watene is offside and another promising attack ends.
59 min: Little shot deflected wide for a corner. Lee inswinger headed just wide by Sigmund as the game comes to life.
60 min: Jeff Campbell does the teapot after losing out to Scott in a tackle. Campbell is then fouled by Waita to compound his unhappiness.
63 min: Young almost intercepts a defensive square ball.
64 min: Young is getting treatment on the sideline.
65 min: Ugly tackle from Wylie. free kick from Gill is blocked.
67 min: GOAL!!! Wilkinson slaws a beauty into the net after Fa'arodo gives possession up, Gill crosses and Sinkora tees it up for Wilkinson to finish with a crackign shot. Wilkinson celebrates by annoying the travelling supporters. 2-2
68 min: Anello on for injured Young.
75 min: Luiz del Monte on for Urlovic after Lee blasts a free kick high.
77 min: Del Monte crosses low from the left and Robinson dives to gather, but is injured in the process, diving in at the feet of an attacker.
78 min: Del Monte crosses again and a desperate headed clearance from Scott.
80 min: Anello beats three and sets up young, but shot is weak.
82 min: Penalty for handball given against Van Rooyen. GOAL!!! Little puts a left-footer neatly in the corner. 2-3.
83 min: Holloway on for Findley.
90 min: Despite the injuries and stoppages there is just 45s of injury time. The assistant linesmen race onto the pitch on the assumption Nick Waldron may need their protection. He doesn't. Full time, Auckland win, 3-2.