Hawke's Bay United
NZFC - Round 12
Park Island, Napier
Friday 6 February, 2009
Ivan Vicelich 33
Halftime: 1-0 Referee: Jamie Cross Crowd:
by Anendra Singh at Park Island
Ivan Vicelich's 33rd minute header gave Auckland City a 1-0 victory over Hawke's Bay United at Park Island to keep alive their New Zealand Football Championship playoff hopes.
For Auckland City goalkeeper Ross Nicholson it was all about who wanted it more.
"I suppose we both had chances but we were more hungry than them," the 33-year-old said after thwarting some nailbiting efforts from Hawke's Bay United this afternoon to ensure Auckland returned home with three valuable points from Napier.
"It wasn't easy. [Auckland coach] Paul Posa just told us during the break to forget about the first half and focus on the second."
It was almost as if the Bay were in damage control mode in the first half as Aucklanders Alex Feneridis, Paul Urlovic, Matt Williams and Chad Coombes peppered the goalmouth with crisp shots.
The hosts made their first decent cross in the 13th minute before teenage midfielder Andrew Abba carved his way through the middle in the 31st minute to unload to Graham Fyfe on the right flank, who in turn flicked it to rightback Chris Davies.
But Nicholson was equal to the occasion, plucking the floating cross before striker Seuele Soromon could put his head to it on the left upright.
Bay gloveman Mitchell O'Brien denied Urlovic a minute later but could nothing 60 seconds later when Vicelich risked a headache in an aerial battle by latching on to Korean midfielder Ki-Hyung Lee's curler to push it past O'Brien for the only goal.
In a 38th minute counterattack, Abba - who added great impetus to the Hawke's Bay attack - crossed across the face of goalmouth but no one seemed to be following up at the far post.
Fellow midfielder Greig Henslee eventually made ground but his lift-off blast caught Vicelich's back and sailed over the crossbar.
Hawke's Bay had a penalty-shout turned down a minute later amidst claims of hand-ball with head coach Jonathan Gould screaming to referee Jamie Cross: "Everyone saw that!"
But it fell on deaf ears.
Five minutes later the visitors struck back with Lee's 45 yard speculator clipping the crossbar, ricocheting almost perpendicular to the ground. Striker Milos Nikolic came charging in but the bounce beat his attempted header and Bluewater Stadium breathed a sigh of relief as O'Brien recovered.
The second spell saw the Aucklanders keep mounting the pressure and Hawke' Bay's Korean midfielder, Woo Jae Kim, fell foul for bringing down Nikolic outside the left side of 18 yard box but the ensuing freekick was thwarted.
Abba collected a yellow card in the 55th in the other end, with referee Cross deeming him to have taken a dive inside the box while sandwiched between two lanky defenders.
Goalkeeper Nicholson, in the 62nd minute, denied centreback Daniel Kirkup, regularly foraging up front for the equaliser, from a Graham Fyfe corner.
Within the next few minutes, Auckland injected Liam Mulrooney in place of Nikolic while the Bay thrust David Gearey up front for skipper Chris McIvor.
The home side had a chance in the 69th when Fyfe flicked a ball inside the penalty area to Gearey who wedged it into Nicholson's gloves.
Mulroney received a yellow card soon after for hacking down roving defender Chris Davies, who had a blinder in the balmy conditions, not scared to take the ball down the flank before curling them to the the attackers.
Urlovic missed a sitter from 12 yards out in the 73rd minute, the ball skewing off his right boot as the lethargic Bay defence were caught napping.
Sensing the impending threat of another home defeat, Kim went a close with an 35 yard free kick from an acute angle only to collapse in a heap as it beat keeper Nicholson but clipped crossbar and sail over.
Minutes later Hawke's Bay centreback Che Bunce copped a yellow card for unsportmanslike behaviour. That caution - his sixth of the season - will see teh former All White miss Sunday's trip to Christchurch and next week's visit from Waitakere.
The heart-stopper came in the 82nd minute when a speedy Abba pounced on a ball that Aucklanders defenders let bounce in a rare defensive lapse but the Solomon Island schoolboy's effort to flick the ball over the head of advancing keeper Nicholson spiralled past the right upright.
Bay's Campbell Parkin eventually replaced defender Ian Hogg five minutes later as he hobbled about, cursing and clutching his lower back.
Four minutes of extra time was added. The Bay boys showed a lot of passion with Kirkup calling everyone, including keeper O'Brien, for the last throw of the dice from a cornerkick but it was too little, too late.
The reality was Auckland had moved back into the top four and the Bay had slipped back to fourth.
Gould may beg to differ but his Auckland counterpart, Posa, said the Bay would not have complained if the scoreline was 3-nil.
"I believe my boys deserved three more goals but that's football," he said, claiming the Aucklanders' passion matched that of the home side.
Gould praised the resilience of Auckland's personnel.
"They've got mentally very, very good players who came today, under the kosh, in fifth place, and coped with it."
Former Celtic goalkeeper Gould said City's last line of defence Ross Nicholson stood firm under pressure and kept his team in the game.
"He made three unbelievable saves."
Gould said the Canterbury United match on Sunday at English Park, Christchurch, was a "must-win."
Photos: John Cowpland www.alphapix.co.nz
Hawke's Bay United
1. Mitchell O'Brien
1. Ross Nicholson
2. Chris Davies
3. Matt Friel
4. Greig Henslee
5. Matt Williams
6. Che Bunce
6. Ki-Hyung Lee
8. Chris McIvor (out 65)
7. James Pritchett
9. Daniel Kirkup
8. Chad Coombes (out 77)
10. Seuele Soromon
9. Paul Urlovic
11. Graham Fyfe
13. Alex Feneridis
16. Ian Hogg (out 87)
15. Ivan Vicelich
19. Andrew Abba
20. Greg Uhlmann
21. Woo Jae Kim
24. Milos Nikolic (out 64)
3. Reiner Bauerfiend
4. Sam Campbell
5. Campbell Parkin (in 87)
17. Allan Carella (in 77)
12. James Oxtoby
23. Liam Mulrooney (in 64)
17. David Gearey (in 65)
26. Johnathan Raj
22. Shaun Peta (RGK)
12. John Fletcher (RGK)
=2 yellow cards
= red card
Temperature in the mid-20s and balmy.
Auckland's Feneridis has first shot at goal but sails over bar after some set-up
first decent cross from Hawke's Bay
Paul Urlovic hits from top of 18m box but shaves left upright
GK Mitch O'Brien handles ball inside 18m box after defender's pass back but indirect free-kick but Matt Williams crisp finish outside left upright
Auckland's Chad Coombes wide of right upright.
Andrew Abba cross to Graham Fyfe, who pushes to Davies but GK Ross Nicholson beats Seuele Soromon on far post.
Urlovic shot blocked by O'Brien.
GOALL!! Vicleich finds the net from a painful header after lovely floateing cross. 1-0
Abba crosses accross face of goalmouth but Greig Henslee late shot catches Vicelich on the back and floats over cross bar.
HB appeal for handball in another attack
Auckland 45m speculator hits crossbar and bounces back over line and charging Coombes misses header as O'Brien saves.
There'll be one minute added to the half
Halftime: 1-0 Auckland
Woo Jae Kim fouls Milos Nikolic outside left of 18m box but freekick thwarted
Abba gets yellow card for allegedly diving while sandwiched between 2 defenders in Auckland box
Referee Jamie Cross cheered for giving HB a free-kick.
GK Nicholson thwarts Daniel Kirkup shot for corner.
Akld Liam Mulrooney subs Nikolic
David Gearey in for skipper Chris McIvor
Fyfe flick inside 18m box to Gearey who shoot straight into GK Nicholson's loves
Mulroney yellow card for hacking don defender Davies
Urlovic misses from 12m out after defence napping
Kim freekick from acute angle, 35m out beats GK Nicholson but clips crossbar as Kim falls to ground in desperation
Allan Carella subs Coombes and seconds later Che Bunce cops a yellow card.
Great through ball and Abba pounces on it but flick over keeper spirals down right upright.
Ian Hogg replaced by Cam Parkin
Four minutes of extra time to be played
Hawke's Bay throw everyone forward looking for an equaliser
Fulltime: Auckland win 1-0 to move back into the top four, while Hawke's Bay slip back to fourth.