NZFC - Round 6,
Memorial Park, Palmerston North
February 21 2009
Halftime: 0-0 Referee: Jamie Cross Crowd: 450
by Jonathan Galuszka at Memorial Park
Auckland City and YoungHeart Manawatu did each other and themselves no favours today, playing out a 0-0 draw at Memorial Park in Palmerston North today.
The weather was schizophrenic and so was the play, with both teams taking their turns at dominating the proceedings.
However, despite managing to put together some great passes and hit decent shots on goal, neither team managed to find that finishing touch. YoungHeart’s vice was hitting the ball wide, while Chris Marsh constantly thwarted Auckland’s attacks.
“We definitely had plenty of chances,” coach Bob Sova said after the match.
“It [the winning goal] could have come in the first five minutes or the last five minutes – that’s football.’
YoungHeart were hardly helped with midfielders Cory Chettleburgh and Raf de Gregorio both out due to suspension and injury respectively.
While Chettleburgh will be back in action next week against Waitakere United, de Gregorio – according to coach Bob Sova – “is not looking good for next week.”
But today’s match did have positives for YoungHeart. Nik Tromp – out since injuring his leg in a pre-season boot camp – made his first start of the season. While hardly looking sharp, he made some great touches and showed what potential he has.
“He’s certainly a great player,” Sova said. “If he was match fit and we had Chettleburgh, Raf and Alick Maemae we would easily be able to take it to any team in the league.”
“The main problem is that we never have them all on the field.”
YoungHeart and Auckland now go into next week in just as precarious position than before today’s match. With Hawke’s Bay and Waikato just three points back and Team Wellington potentially even closer if they can secure victory tomorrow, the playoff picture will not be clear all the dust settle after next weekend’s final round of round-robin action.
At least one of Auckland or YoungHeart will make it into the top four – that much is guaranteed – but either team can still finish outside the playoff spots, given the logjam of teams from second to sixth, and the unpredictability of results this season.
With a goal difference of +7 – the best of the five teams still fighting to squeeze into one of the three remaining spots – and a home match against bottom-placed Canterbury next Sunday, Auckland look relatively comfortable, but YoungHeart will most likely need another point from their final home fixture against minor premiers Waitakere to assure themselves of semi-final football.
1. Chris Marsh (GK)
1. Ross Nicholson (GK)
2. Nelson Sale
2. Jonathan Raj
4. Jan Weissenfeldt
5. Matt Williams (out 68 min)
6. Matt Kennedy
6. Ki-Hyun Lee
7. Jason Hayne
7. James Pritchett
8. Nathan Cooksley
8. Chad Coombes
9. Gustavo Saralegui
9. Paul Urlovic (out 77min)
10. Adam Cowan
11. Alex Feneridis
11. Scott Robson
15. Ivan Vicelich
14. Nik Tromp
20. Greg Uhlmann
20. Alick Maemae
24. Milos Nikolic
19. Matt Borren (RGK)
12. John Fletcher (RGK)
3. Pablo Yackson
4. Sam Campbell
12. Park Sung-Bae
19. Salesh Kumar
17. Issac Duker
23. Liam Mulrooney (in 68 min)
18. Finlay Milne
25. Adam McGeorge (in 77 min)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to NZFC.co.nz for today's live coverage of Auckland City vs YoungHeart Manawatu. Palmerston North has turned on a brilliant day for ducks - puddles everywhere. It's been pouring down over the last couple days. We may be lucky today though, with the sun occasionally peaking through the clouds to heat things up a bit. YoungHeart will be hoping that star striker Jason Hayne will be on fire today after his trial in Brunei. Auckland welcome back Liam Mulrooney and Adam McGeorge, although both are on the bench today. Expect an entertaining display of attacking football today, as the winner will lock up a playoffs spot for themselves.
The weather still looks like it's going to hold off. Most of it seems to be blowing over.
I've only just realised that YoungHeart are without Raf de Gregorio today. That's a big blow as he brings real composure to any YoungHeart attacking play.
Referee Jamie Cross blows the whistle and Auckland get us underway. YHM have the wind advantage in the first half.
Auckland have won the first corner of the day. Chad Coomes fires it in but it is cleared away by a YHM defender. YHM then counter quickly. Scott Robson unleashes Jason Hayne down the wing. However, Hayne's cross is met by Auckland keeper Ross Nicholson before Gustavo Saralegui can catch it.
Hayne gets a brilliant run down his flank again. He hits his cross high across the box, too high for Adam Cowan to head. Maemae ends up hitting the ball into a defender for a corner.
The corner comes across. It pops out to Nik Tromp who has a dig from 20 yards out. His shot is blocked and bounces away.
Auckland are camped on YHM's 18 yard line. James Pritchett manages to put in a cross. It is met, but gets skied over the goal from six yards out.
Pritchett puts in another cross. Milos Nikolic gets a head on the far post. It takes a reflex save from Chris Marsh to keep it out. Auckland are looking very good so far.
I obviously have no future as a weather forecaster, as drizzle has started to fall on the pitch. YoungHeart have played well in the rain at home before. Just as I say that, they managed to put togeather a string of great passes and Maemae fires a rocket a Nicholson.
Adam Cowan gets some great ball in space. But, instead of taking a first-touch shot, he tries to cut it back and lay it across the box for Hayne. Pity that his delivery was as bad as his finishing last week. Ivan Vicelich picks it up with no trouble at all.
YHM are really missing de Gregorio this week. While managing to keep hold of the ball, there is no one sparking anything for them once they get into the middle third of the field. Someone needs to dictate the play today.
Just as I say that, Maemae threads a ball through for Cowan. He slips it past the keeper but the linesman has his flag up. The crowd seem to think it was a shocking call. Being on halfway, I cannot make a decent call on it.
Some lazy running from Maemae sees him disposessed by Matt Williams. However, his ball through to Urlovic is far too late and Urlovic is offside. The crowd liked that call.
The rain has left again. Even the seasoned Palmerston North football fan will be amazed at how Jeckle and Hyde the weather has been today.
Both teams are keeping the linesman busy today, with about 5 or 6 offsides being called so far.
Saralegui is on the edge of the box with a man to beat. However, he looks across the box to try and play Hayne into space. Most people here know that he can beat anyone on his day. Perhaps he needs to become a bit more greedy to be of real use to YHM today.
Ki-Hyun Lee smashes Kennedy in a tackle. It looked like a yellow was going to be dished out, but all the ref wanted was for Kennedy and Lee to kiss and make up. Good promotion of fair play - maybe. Getting in the way of the game being played - certainly. Good on him anyway. Younger players watching older players need to learn that there's more to a game than winning somehow.
Marsh shows his class when punching out a corner. It is met by a flying Vicelich who chances his arm. He's a defender for a reason though and the ball goes very high and very wide. Had great power - shame about the rest.
Saralegui is getting more than a tad miffed at constantly being pushed over. He's getting free kicks, but asks the ref for something more. The ref lets him know who is in charge very quickly.
We have one minute of extra time this half.
A corner comes flying into the YHM box. Cowan shows all his NZFC experience to head it away. YHM manage to counter quickly. Saralegui cut it in for Hayne. However, he puts his shot just wide of the bottom corner.
Halftime 0-0 A solid first half from both teams today. The schizophrenic weather is not helping the players out, but both teams are still managing to play some great attacking football. YHM coach Bob Sova will be wanting someone in his midfield to step up and control the play, while Auckland coach Paul Posa - who didn't even get out of his seat all half - looks like he is just waiting for his gameplan to unfold.
The final 45 minutes are underway.
Scott Robson sends Cowan on a run through the box. However, it is intercepted by Greg Uhlmann and he runs it past Nicholson and nearly into his own goal.
Coombes has a run and through the YHM defence and pops a shot in. However, Marsh makes another great save.
Vicelich has gone down hard in a challenge. Both the ref and I didn't see what happened, but he is consulting with his linesman to clear things up.We have ended up with an Auckland free kick in the end.
Auckland have a free kcik on the edge of the area. Nikolic fires in the shot, but it sails just over the bar.
Jason Hayne runs YHM into a very good attacking position. But just when it looks like Cowan was going to be away down the touchline, he gets called up for offside.
Coombes get one-on-one with Marsh. He shoots, but Marsh puts it wide. Great save from the YHM keeper. He's looked solid as a rock all day.
Nikolic gets the ball in the box. However, he collides hard with Sale. Auckland City players scream for a penalty, but the ref waves play on. A tad hard done by there some would say.
Yellow Card. Matt Kennedy puts in an ugly challenge on an Auckland midfielder and is rewarded justly.
Yellow Card. Nelson Sale gets his name in the book for barging into Urlovic without caution. The resulting free kick is inches wide. Brilliant hit from Ki-Hyun Lee.
YHM are beginning to get frustrated with their lack of success at penetrating the Auckland defence. I hope that all the mums out there are covering their children's ears as the language is far from PG.
Auckland seem to be getting just as frustrated, as their language is just as bad at the moment.
SUB Auckland make the first change of the game, with Matt Williams making way for Liam Mulrooney. Williams has put ice on his ankle straight away so it seems that the change was not for tactical reasons.
Yellow Card. Gustavo Saralegui gets a yellow for a shove on Vicelich.
Hayne takes a long ball from Robson. He cuts back inside and hits one off his left foot. It nearly manages to squeeze under Nicholson, but he keeper manages to cover it. Easily the best chance of the half for YHM.
Hayne fires in a free kick. Maemae touches it on with his head and Saralegui nearly puts it in at the far post. But it manages to go wide.
SUB Paul Urlovic - who has looked very slow all game - is replaced by Adam McGeorge.
Auckland have another corner. The ball pops out and is drilled back in. Marsh manages to make a spectacular diving save to keep it out. He has been the busier of both keepers today and is showing every ounce of his experience today.
Aucland have yet another corner. It comes out and Greg Uhlmann tries to chip the keeper. It beats Marsh but it rolls down the back of the net.
YHM coach Bob Sova also has a case of potty mouth now. Him and Hayne seem to be at odds about where Hayne should be positioning himself. This is what happens when a playoff spot is on the line.
Hayne, Robson, Cowan and Saralegui play some brilliant passing to get Hayne into the right corner at Auckland's end. Hayne puts a ball in for an unmarked Maemae but he cannot finish. Sova is kicking himself that his player did not take that gem of a chance.
Hayne gets the ball in the box. He runs around one and then seems to be tripped. The entire crowd is up in arms about it, but the ref waves play on.
Three minutes of extra time is left for either team to take the points and a place in the NZFC playoffs.
Hayne is forced to make another diving save, this time to intercept a cross. He is the only reason YHM are still in with a shot today.
90 + 1 min
Hayne wins a free kick on the right-hand side of the Auckland box. He fires it in and it is headed away by Vicelich. Nik Tromp runs it back, but slips when he fires in a shot. Now Cowan is away, but his pass goes to Nicholson. What a minute of action!
Fulltime 0-0 It's the end of the game. However, Auckland and YHM players are all togeather and seem to be about to have a bit of a tiff. The ref breaks it up quickly though. The draw will not help any of the teams and only makes the playoff race that much tighter for them. Catch you next week as YHM takes on Waitakere to earn their place in the playoffs.