NZFC - Round 8,
Sunday 11 January
Keryn Jordan 22
Halftime: 0-1 Referee: Matt Conger Crowd: 500
by Rab Smith at Sunnyvale
There was a large slice of relief for Auckland City at the final whistle as they beat Otago United 1-nil in a fast paced match at Sunnyvale, Dunedin on Sunday
The home side saved its best form for the second half and hammered Auckland with sustained pressure that had keeper Jacob Spoonley producing top form as the clock ran down.
But after Keryn Jordan superbly flighted a winning header from a Milos Nikolic left wing cross in the 22nd minute – Otago was always chasing the game.
Auckland showed its pedigree with some delightful one touch football in the first half, but even then coach Paul Posa must have been concerned at the lack of penetration as squre passes crabbed across the field.
Otago captain and centreback Colin Falvey commented that although it looked pretty, ‘ They didn’t hurt us, and we were comfortable to let them play across us.’
Yet it was a combination of the offside flag and brave goalkeeping by Liam Little that denied Chad Coombes two chances to put Auckland further ahead.
However coach Posa recognized that his team which had several changes, was under some pressure to win. ‘ It was absolutely vital for us to win the match, and after a good first half, we lost our rhythm a bit in the second spell.’
‘ So much of football is in the top four inches, ‘ he said tapping his temple. ‘As Otago stormed back in the second half, we lost our composure, and to be fair – they ( Otago ) played well.
Otago barely created a chance in the first half, but made up for it in the second and had the Sunnyvale crowd on its feet as shots and crosses headed towards the Auckland goal.
Stu Kelly had a Will of the Wisp match in central midfield, carving past Aucklanders, delivering some classy passes and also launching a couple of gymnastic volleys that might have won the game.
Keeper Spoonley expertly fielded lots of floating crosses and punched clear a series of corners and long throws delivered by Tom Jackson, who can hurl into the goalmouth from almost any distance.
Veteran Blair Scoullar was back from injury and while mostly patrolling in front of his defence, he made several direct runs up the middle in the second half that drew some rash tackles and subsequent free kicks.
Aaron Burgess, David Dugdale and Barry Gardiner also showed their ability to get behind defenders…. But the final shots were either fielded by Spoonley or blocked by the well organized Auckland defence.
Ivan Vicelich was steady as a rock, and Matt Williams and Ki-Hyung Lee had the skills and composure to play the ball out despite Otago’s enthusiastic pressure.
Otago captain Falvey said,’ It was a great finish, and we probably deserved something from the match. But all we got was compliments – we need goals.’
‘ It’s a dangerous attitude to feel satisfaction, when you lose. We have another really important match next week – the derby against Canterbury – and we want more than compliments from that one.’
1. Liam Little (GK)
12. Jacob Spoonley
3. Tristan Prattley
3. Matt Friel
4. Barry Gardiner (out 57)
5. Matt Williams
5. Colin Falvey
6. Ki-Hyung Lee (out 68)
6. Mike Smith
7. Mios Nikolic (out 74)
8. Blair Scoullar (out 82)
8. Chad Coombes
10. David Dugdale
14. Keryn Jordan
11. Andy Coburn
15. Ivan Vicelich
12. Aaron Burgess (out 75)
21. Riki van Steeden
17. Tim Horner
22. Xavi Roca
21. Stu Kelly
23. Liam Mulrooney
9. Tom Jackson (in 57)
1. Ross Nicholson (RGK)
13. Callum Flaws (RGK)
9. Paul Urlovic (in 74)
15. Morgan Day
19 Salesh Kumar
18. Tom Connor (in 75)
20. Sam Campbell
9. Robbie Deeley (in 82)
2.McGeorge (in 68)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Welcome to Dunedin. Sunnyvale looks in good condition on a perfect Otago summer's day.
And we're off.
Chances at both ends with a free-kick balsted over teh bar by Otago, while at the otehr end Liam Litle has already made a couple of saves.
Still plenty of ebb and flow but neither side is really able to make the incisive move into the attacking third, as both defences are doing a good job of breaking attaks down.
GOAL! 0-1 Auckland make the breakthrough with Keryn Jordan nodding home after a move down the left flank. The cross comes deep but Jordan heads back accross goal and into the top left hand corner for a 1-0 lead.
Goal? no - disallowed for offside. Chad Coombes rounds Liam Little and puts the ball in the back of the net only to turn and see teh assistant ref with his flag up. That could have been a killer blow.
Otago's Stu Kelly gets a couple of bites in front of goal, the first shot bounces back to him and the second deflects off a defender and out for a corner.
Jordan recievs the ball from an Auckland attacking free-kick blast sends teh ball over the goal.
Oooh. Nearly a minties moment from Little as as a low shot from Coombes somehow wriggles through his arms and legs but a defender clears the ball off the line to save any further blushes and keep the score at 1-0 to teh visitors.
Halftime: Auckland lead 1-0 at the break and probably deserve it on teh balance of play but Otago by no means out of it. We'll see if all that fitness work Otago have been doing will pay off in teh second 45.
Tim Horner tries to reach a loose ball in the Auckland goalmouth but his slide only succeeds in fouling Jacob Spoonley.
A nice flowing move from Otago featuring Dugdale, Horner and Kelly ends with Keely firing wide.
Yellow card. Matt Williams sees a flash of colour from ref Matt COnger for an elbow on Andy Coburn
SUB Otago: Barry Gardiner is replaced by Tom Jackson.
Coombes is offside again but this time his shot goes wide.
Liam Mulrooney receievs a yellow card for grabbing Stu Kelly by the collar.
Stu Kelly sets up Dave Dugdale for a shot but it just won't fall for the home side
Substitute Tom Jackson forces a save from Auckland's Jacob Spoonley.
SUB Auckland: Paul Urlovic in for Milos Nikolic
SUB Auckland:McGeorge comes in for Ki Hyung Lee as Auckland try to close out teh game.
SUB Otago: Tom Connor in for Aaron Burgess.
Great run from Dugdale beats three players but broken up by Auckland.
Otago Freekick: Stu Kelly hits it stright into the Auckland wall.
Stu Kelly forces a wonderful top corner save from Jacob Spoonley. Auckland hanging on.
Liam Little saves from Auckland's Paul Urlovic
5 minutes of extra time to be played. Can Otago nick an equaliser?
Speculative long range effort from Tristan Prattley saved by Spoonley.
FULLTIME: Otago 0 Auckland 1. The visitors hole don for teh thre points and with Waikato losing, AUckland go top of teh table for about 10 minutes until Waitakere's game finishes and they take top spot by the looks of things.