NZFC Preliminary Final
Saturday 12 April, 2008
Jeff Campbell 70
Graham Little 24, 109
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Peter O'Leary (Auckland) Crowd: 984
Auckland City’s three-year reign as New Zealand Football Champions is over after losing 4-3 to Team Wellington in the NZFC Preliminary Final at Kiwitea St on Saturday.
The win also ends Auckland’s hoodoo over the capital side, who grabbed their first win over City in 13 attempts and enter their first ever Grand Final next Sunday against Minor Premiers Waitakere United at Trusts Stadium.
“There’s been talk about history being against us but I told the lads that the only history we need to worry about is what we set,” Team Wellington coach Stu Jacobs said.
“We’re not there yet however. We have to be genuine champions and that means beating both Auckland and Waitakere.”
Golden boot winner Graham Little continued his fine scoring form with a brace of goals – the second a match-winning penalty in extra time with the scores locked at 2-2, after earlier opening the scoring in the 24th minute from some goalmouth pinball.
Little – who has now scored 46 goals in a league record 81 games for Team Wellington, looked full of running throughout the match but confirmed his 82nd game would be his last.
“The old legs are still working,” Little said.
“But it’s my last game next week, and there’d be no better way to finish [than winning the Grand Final]."
Halftime substitute Peter Halstead also grabbed a pair, first sending the game into extra time with a measured left foot curling equaliser in the 86th minute, and then making sure of the victory with Wellington’s fourth from a breakaway as Auckland pushed for a extra time leveller.
Auckland – a goal down at halftime – led 2-1 heading into the final ten minutes with two goals in three minutes midway through the second spell.
Keryn Jordan – the last-gasp goal-scoring hero for Auckland last weekend against Wellington – turned provider with a scything ball across the face of goal that allowed Jeff Campbell to finish at the back post in the 70th minute.
City’s Korean duo then combined to put Auckland in front three minutes later with Chan-Goo Yoon subtly directing Ki-Hyung Lee’s free kick past Phil Imray.
With Halstead sending the game into extra time, the game then turned on the penalty, as Luis Corrales – incisive and lively throughout the first half – made up for a relatively subdued second half by drawing Tamati Williams into a foul on the Costa Rican.
It was a sour note for the often-maligned Williams, who had arguably his best game in Auckland colours – twice denying Corrales in regular time and confidently sweeping behind his defence throughout.
With the clock ticking down and Auckland reduced to 10 men following Greg Uhlmann’s late red card for dissent, George Suri pulled a goal back but it proved merely consolation as Peter O’Leary called time on the Auckland City reign.
Winners of every Grand Final since the NZFC’s inaugural 2004-05 season, Auckland’s role in next Sunday’s finale will be as highly interested spectators only.
The Auckland club have one foot in the door of next year’s O-League but a Grand Final win for Wellington would bring the added bonus of New Zealand’s second spot in that competition at City’s expense.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
12. Tamati Williams (GK)
1. Phil Imray (GK / Captain)
2. Joel Matthews
23. Tim Schaeffers
5. Ben Sigmund (Captain)
9. Daniel Ellensohn (out 46)
6. Ki-Hyung Lee
15. Graham Little
27. John Niyonsaba (out 43)
10. Luis Corrales
10. Grant Young
16. Raf de Gregorio
14. Keryn Jordan
14. Darren Cheriton
16. George Suri
17. Wiremu Patrick (out 81)
19. Salesh Kumar
5. Peter Howe
22. Bryan Little (out 62)
13. Karl Whalen
20. Greg Uhlmann
19. Sean Douglas
1. Mark Fulcher (RGK)
7. Sam Blackburn (in 81)
15. Jeff Campbell (in 62)
18. Peter Halstead (in 46)
23. Chan-Goo Yoon (in 43)
20 Cole Tinkler
24. Sam Campbell
1. Sasha Nathu (RGK)
7. James Pritchett
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to Kiwitea St for the Preliminary Final. The sunshine promised to us hasn't arrived yet but locals say it's still on it's way. The teams are coming out and just their TV directed line-ups.
We're underway here in Sandrigham. Wellington kick off towards the clubhouse.
The teams go through their mandatory 'feeling out' phase.
Cheriton squares a all on the edge of the box but it arrives out-of-stride for Ellensohn who gets the ball
Good interplay from Team Wellington leads to Corrales getting almost free just inside the area. A heavy touch sends the ball to Williams.
Corrales free on the left of the 18-yard box but Willimas is out well to smother
Corrales fires a shot from distance well over.
Auckland's Captain Ben Sigmund - playing his last home game for Auckland before joing the Phoenix next Month - is playing as a holding midfielder. Wellington's captain for the day is Phil Imray after Adam Birch was injured midweek in training.
Bryan Little fires stright at Imray.
This time Imray has a tougher job but saves well from Jordan's shot.
A jinky run by Bryan Little ends with a foul by Luis Corrales and some afters by Sean Douglas who gives Little some treatment.
A freekick in a dangerous position for Lee, but Ellensohn puts his body on the line and takes one for the team.
GOAL 0-1! Corrales skips past Uhlmann to the by-line and pulls it back. After a ouple of stabs and failed clearances, Golden Boot Graham Little slots hit to give Wellington the lead.
Grag Uhlmann gets a rare chance to shoot but drags it wide
Wellington break quickly and with numbers. Graham Little squares the ball across the 6 yard box. Ellensohn should have got a foot to it but it gets past him to Corrales. Huis shot is brilliantly saved by Williams but he was offside anyway.
Jordan opens Wellington up with a through ball to Niyonsaba who rushes his shot and puts high and wide.
Team Wellington are getting in behind Auckland on both flanks.
Ellensohn runs on to a bouncing ball in the bos, tries to lob an advancing Williams who gets an arm to it. It bounces to Corrales who hits his first attempt t the chest of Sure and his second onto the clubhouse.
oooh. Kumar hits the sidenetting but City fans briefly think they're back in it.
SUB Auckland: Yoon on for Nitonsaba.
Halftime: Team Wellington lead 1-0 and deserve their lead. Is Auckland's perfect playoff record under threat or will their big game players come through to send them to a fourth Grand Final?
Back underway with just one halftime change - Peter Halstead on for Daniel Ellensohn.
Free flowing start to the second half. End to end stuff with a couple of dangerous corners to Auckland thrown in for good measure.
Wellington players have their heads in their hands as Graham Little's snap shot goes agonisingly close to doubling the lead.
Bryan Little in space on the corner of the area miscues his attampted volley.
Auckland have the better of the game in the last few minutes but can't conjure up the killer ball.
SUB Auckland: Jeff Campbell on for Bryan Little
Ki-Hyung Lee tries an acrobatic backwards flick from barely six yards, lands just over the bar.
GOAL! 1-1 City equalise through Jeff Cambell, who has the easiest of finishes at the back post from point blank range. Jordan made the goal, reaching the byline on the left hand flank and friring a flat cross accross the face of goal.
GOAL 2-1! The korean connection delivers a go-ahead goal. Ki-Hyung Lee floats in a free-kick which Yoon back headers inside the far post
Yellow card for Luis Corrales
Halstead denied by the upright and then sends his follow up over.
GOAL! 2-2 Wellington are back level with Peter Halstead finding teh ball at his feet and curling a left foot shot inside teh right hand post.
Great run by Jordan into the box but even better tackle by Whalen
Many Auckland players look out on their feet.
SUB Auckland - Joel Matthews comes out for Sam Campbell. Matthews had nothing left in the tank.
Fulltime: 2-2. Auckland have shown a lot more in this half but it still could go either way. We'll have 30 minutes of extra time and possibly penalties.
Yellow card for de Gregorio
Free kick to Welllingotn bounces off wall. Auckland have two consective corners.
Off balanced Yoon sends a chance to win the match over the bar.
Jordan see a thirty-yard volley crash off teh post.
Tamati Willaimas makes a fantastic save at his near post from a low Corrales drive. He gets a lot of stick but he's had a blinder today.
Jordan cuts inside from right, but his left foot shot is just over
Good interplay from Auckland leads to another Jordan shot...over the bar again
Halftime in extra time. 2-2 we turnaround for another 15 mins.
SUB Wellington Cole timkler in for Raf de Gregorio
Penalty! Tamati Williams comes to collect a through ball but is beaten to it by Luis Corrales. Corrales goes down and O'Leary points to the sopt.
GOAL! 2-3 Graham Little smashes his spot kick into the roof of the net.
Auckland applying all the pressure now.. A Lee free-kick is re-taken after some shirt pulling
GOAL! 2-4 Peter Halstead seals it with a breakaway. Uhlmann gets a red card for dissent.
GOAL! 3-4 Jordan's 5 yard header is brilliantly saved by Imray but Suri blasts the rebound to give Auckland a sniff.
One minute of added time
Corrales milks a free kick on teh edge of teh area. Kumar gets a yellow.
It's all over. Weelington end their Auckland jinx and with it terminate Auckland's mortgae on teh NZFC title. We'll have a new champion next week when Waitakere host Wellington at Trusts stadium on Sunday