NZFC - Round 3, Kiwitea St,
Matt Williams 89
Allan Pearce 32
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Mike Hester Crowd: 752
by Bob Pearce at Kiwitea Street
Waitakere United gave themselves a great boost ahead of their FIFA Club World Cup campaign when they beat Auckland City 2-1 in an third-round New Zealand Football Championship clash at Kiwitea St on Wednesday evening.
Waitakere were sharper, fitter and more committed than they had been against Wellington Phoenix and Port Vila in their previous two encounters and it paid off against an Auckland side who dominated the first half but couldn't put the ball in the net.
Hero of the first half was goalkeeper Richard Gillespie, who made three great saves including one inadvertent one with the back of his neck. At the other end Allan Pearce capitalised on a freekick after 32 minutes, curling a perfectly placed kick beyond the grasp of Ross Nicholson.
Keryn Jordan had goal-bound shots brilliantly saved in the 16th and 17th minutes but he limped off in the 34th minute with a leg injury. Chad Coombes and Milos Nikolic also had chances that could easily have brought goals but for Gillespie's heroics.
The second half brought a complete reversal of form. Waitakere grew in confidence while Auckland City wilted and it was no real surprise when Daniel Koprivcic, who had replaced Kayne Vincent, beat the last defender with a couple of deft touches and found the net across goalie Nicholson in the 84th minute.
Auckland pressed forward and Matt Williams scored a consolation goal after Waitakere had failed to clear a Ki-Hyung Lee freekick on the edge of the penalty area.
"It sets us up well to go to Japan," said a delighted Waitakere coach Chris Milicich. "In the first half they had a whole bunch of chances and Richard Gillespie kept us in it.
"But we came right in the second spell and there was ball movement, speed and commitment in the tackle."
Auckland's Colin Tuaa described himself as "gutted".
"We killed them in the first half but we just didn't finish. They scored from a soft freekick and suddenly we were a goal down at halftime.
"When you let a team like Waitakere back into the game, they're going to punish you and that's what happened. We've got to get fitter and take our chances."
Tuaa's preparation for Saturday's clash with Wellington in the capital will not be helped by the injuries to Jordan, James Pritchett and Riki Van Steeden that saw him having to make substitutions much earlier than he would have wanted.
Waitakere must keep their concentration for a clash with Canterbury on Saturday. Neil Emblen, back from injury, proved decisive in shutting down Auckland in the second half but so far kingpin Danny Hay has yet to make an appearance.
In his absence Tim Myers and Jonathan Perry have shown out in defence and Roy Krishna has shown the speed and sharp-shooting that punished the All Whites when he was playing for Fiji.
Coombes was all action for Auckland but one or two of their players look short of match fitness.
Photos: Shane Wenzlick www.phototek.co.nz
1 Ross Nicholson (GK)
1 Richard Gillespie (GK)
3 Matt Friel
2 Jonathan Perry
5 Matt Williams
16 Neil Emblen
6 Ki-Hyung Lee
4 Tim Myers
8 Chad Coombes
15 Chris Bale
15 Ivan Vicelich
14 Jeff Campbell
21 Ricky Van Steeden(Uhlmann 51)
8 Paul Seaman(Scott 70)
23 Liam Mulrooney
17 Jake Butler
24 Milos Nikolic
21 Kayne Vincent(Koprivcic 66)
14 Keryn Jordan (Young 35)
12 Roy Krishna (Totori)
7 James Pritchett (Campbell 55)
10 Allan Pearce
4 Sam Campbell
3 Aaron Scott
10 Grant Young
22 Danny Robinson (RGK)
11 Alick Maemae
9 Benjamin Totori
12 Jacob Spoonley (RGK)
13 Daniel Koprivcic
20 Greg Uhlmann
29 Adriano Pimenta
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Beautiful sunshine so the late kickoff should not mean a dark finish
Lee freekick headed over top by Friel
Cross by Campbell just clear of Seaman's head
Good run by Mulrooney but shot straight at keeper.
Campbell freekick finds Myers but heads wide
Lee long-range shot easy meat.
Nikolic through finds Jordan but shot saved by Gillespie's foot.
Jordan piledriver from corner brilliantly blocked by Gillespie.
Yellow card.Bale yellow for foul tackle
Krishna clear but fires wide
Krishna shot straight at goalie
Handball by Vincent, freekick by Lee wide.
Emblen long ball finds Krishna, tees up Pearce, Nicholson saves well.
GOAL! 0-1 Foul by Van Steeden on Seaman earns yellow card for dissent, Pearce curls freekick from edge of area over Nicholson.
Coombes shot saved brilliantly by Gillespie.
Jordan limps off, replaced by Young
Nikolic shot deflected on to post by defender.
Nikolic shot after corner blocked by goalie.
Almost no added time and the whistle blows
No changes at halftime. Early corner to Waitakere.
Yellow card Seaman for tackle on Van Steeden
Vicelich glancing header off Lee freekick just wide
Van Steeden replaced by Uhlmann
Substitution Sam Campbell for Pritchett
Vincent shot after freekick, Nicholson untroubled
Butler cross, Pearce free header, well wide.
Young over top from long range.
Yellow card Perry from trip on Coombes
Substitution Koprivcic for Vincent.
Substitution Scott for Seaman
Koprivcic weaves through three defenders but shot blocked.
First corner of half for Auckland, no danger
Mulrooney yellow card for innocuous challenge
Substition Totori for Krishna
GOAL! 0-2 Koprivcic unchallenged takes two touches and fires across goalie.
GOAL! 1-2 Lee freekick from edge off area, Matt Williams finally collects loose ball to score.
Fulltime 2-1 to Waitakere.