Auckland City FC
NZFC - Round 12, Croatian Centre, 6 February 2008
Grant Young 26
Halftime: 1-0 Referee: Neil Fox Crowd: 1000
by Bob Pearce at the Croatian Cultural Society
Grant Young may be nearer 40 than 30 but he retains the skills that make him one of the most potent strikers in the New Zealand Football Championship.
The South African scored one goal and created the other as Auckland City beat Wellington 2-0 at the Croatian Cultural Centre to increase their lead at the top of the championship table to three points.
Young's goal in the 26th minute demonstrated his skills. One of the youngest players on the field, Adam McGeorge, fed a perfect pass through the Wellington defence and with a burst of speed Young was clear.
But goalkeeper Phil Imray had charged out quickly and it needed a deft chip to elude him when lesser players might have opted to blast the ball goalwards.
Auckland's second goal in the 56th minute came courtesy of an expertly taken penalty by Paul Urlovic. But Young was again the catalyst. His speed took him clear of the defence and referee Neil Fox ruled that the challenge on him by Caue Benicio was worth a penalty.
Auckland coach Colin Tuaa was thrilled by the way his team lifted their game to meet the spirited challenge of Wellington.
"We played when we had to play," he said, "and when we had to get the goals we did.
"Lots of times these games are a bit of an arm wrestle but at the moment our effort and attitude is up to the task.
"I thought Grant Young was outstanding. His goal was a lovely piece of skill because the goalie was coming out fast and it was easy for a shot to have been blocked."
Wellington coach Stu Jacobs was philosophical, disappointed that his team lost but not convinced they were two goals worse than Auckland.
"We lacked the cutting edge," he said. "We got in good areas, particularly in the first half, but the final ball went astray and we didn't have a quality finish.
"It wasn't a game where they overpowered us but you've got to take your chances if you want to beat Auckland. It's disappointing to lose but we've got to bounce back against Otago."
Auckland had Ben Sigmund and Chad Coombes back from suspension and they were prominent in a midfield that bustled Wellington out of their rhythm. Ki-Hyung Lee was again impressive and young McGeorge did not look out of place at this level.
On the downside stalwart defender Greg Uhlmann injured his leg and left the field after 33 minutes, adding to the champions' long casualty list.
Wellington had their moments with Daniel Ellensohn, Graham Little and Raf de Gregorio all having half chances. But they encountered a defence quick to tackle back and goalkeeper Ross Nicholson commanding the penalty area.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
Auckland City FC
1 Ross Nicholson (GK)
24 Paul Imray (GK)
2 Joel Mathews (off 69)
3 Steve Gulley
5 Ben Sigmund
6 Adam Birch
6 Ki-Hyung Lee
9 Daniel Ellensohn (off 77)
8 Chad Coombes
14 Darren Cheriton (off 59)
9 Paul Urlovic (off 77)
15 Graham Little
10 Grant Young
16 Raf de Gregorio
15 Jeff Campbell
17 Wiremu Patrick
19 Salesh Kumar
19 Sean Douglas
20 Greg Uhlmann (off 32)
20 Cole Tinkler (off 77)
25 Adam McGeorge
21 Caue Beniciao
12 Tamati Williams (GK)
2 Sam Peters
13 Alex Feneridis (on 69)
4 Jamie Farrington (on 77)
16 George Suri (on 32)
22 Michael Eager (on 77)
26 Lance Heslop
18 Peter Halstead (on 59)
27 John Niyonsaba (on 77)
1 Simon Shone (GK)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Fine with a slight breeze, Auckland have Sigmund and Coombes back in starting lineup. Foxie second game here in a row as ref. He was great last time, only one yellow
Auckland playing with the wind
First corner to Wellington, Auckland break quickly , shot by Lee well saved
Yellow card Jeff Campbell
Auckland struggle to clear Wellington attack, Uhlmann injured but returns after treatment
GOAL! 1-0 Quick break by Auckland Adam McGeorge feeds Grant Young and he scores
Chance for Ellensohn blocked by Nicholson's body, Uhlmann clears
Substitution Auckland. Suri on for limping Uhlmann
Two minutes of time added.
45 plus two mins
HALFTIME 1-0. Scrappy half with both sides wasting too many useful chances.
No changes at the break. Wellington quickly on the attack through Ellensohn. Nicholson fields safely.
Wellington left wing corner headed wide by Benicio
Young clear, brought down by Benicio. Penalty
GOAL! Urlovic buries penalty 2-0
Wellington substitution Darren Cheriton off, Peter Halstead on
Yellow card McGeorge
Substitution Auckland. Joel Mathews replaced by Alex Feneridis
Campbell hits crossbar with Imray beaten
Substitutions Wellington. Ellensohn off, Michael Eager on. Tinkler off, Farrington on.
Substitution Auckland. Urlovic off, Niyonsaba on.
Yellow card Douglas for backchat
Yellow card de Gregorio for chat. Three minutes time added on
90 plus two mins
Yellow for Sigmund for tackle
90 plus three mins
FULL TIME: 2-0 Auckland to retain lead in league