Hawke's Bay United
Auckland City FC
NZFC - Week 17
Park Island, Napier
Sunday 14 March 2010
Leon Birnie 88' pen
Jason Hayne 15', 86'
Halftime: Referee: Mirko BENISCHKE Crowd: 300
by Ryan Majstrovic at Park Island
For Hawke’s Bay United to make their first appearance in the NZFC play-offs, circumstances and a slice of luck needed to go their way. At Park Island today, practically nothing did as Auckland romped to a 6-1 win.
But take nothing away from the qualities defending champions Auckland City displayed.
They brought a full-strength squad containing three current All Whites, and a host of other players with equally-impressive credentials and they played with a freedom and authority that suggests they are strong favourites to retain their NZFC title.
Hawke’s Bay, to their credit, did enjoy a fair share of possession, and often found themselves in positions to score.
Unfortunately for the locals, the only one from which they did was the penalty spot – once the game was well and truly beyond them.
Trailing by a solitary goal into the halftime break, Hawke’s Bay were definitely in with a shout.
Auckland City took clear advantage of the extra man and heaped pressure on Hawke’s Bay they simply couldn’t cope with.
In the 55th minute, Auckland edged in front when an unmarked Matt Williams headed home from a corner.
Following this, Auckland City coach Paul Posa removed left-back Ian Hogg to inject Adam Dickinson into the fixture, an aggressive move that signalled things to come.
The ex-Watford man made an immediate impact and created space for Alex Feneridis – another substitute – to narrowly squander consecutive chances, the most glaring a strike that hit the upright from close-range.
Outstanding Hawke’s Bay goalkeeper Richard Gillespie – returning from suspension – was in the thick of the action, but in the 77th minute when Matt Williams proved one too many attackers to mark, this time doing the damage with a tidy right foot finish.
One plus one equalled two for Williams, three for Auckland City and none for Hawke’s Bay on a day when only victory counted for the home side.
The final five minutes of the match could be viewed as a thing of beauty, or something quite the opposite – depending on what side of the fence you sit on.
When an unmarked Jason Hayne further stamped his mark on the match with an authoritative volley from inside the penalty area, Hawke’s Bay immediately responded by way of a Leon Birnie penalty.
From the ensuing kick-off Dickinson found himself with only Gillespie to beat, and showcased his pedigree with a composed finish.
To make matters worse for Hawke’s Bay, Dickinson then wandered free before he hit a volley home from in space in the Hawke’s Bay penalty area.
Post-match, Hawke’s Bay coach Matt Chandler conceded it was just a day when things didn’t click for his charges.
“Our attitude’s been great all season, but Auckland City were fantastic today – definitely the better team” said Chandler.
“But today’s not the end of the season for us – it’s the start of the next. We want to get where Auckland City are, and be where they’ve been.
“We’ve come a long way this season, starting pretty much afresh right across the board – administration through to the players. Those we’ve bought in have been outstanding, we’ve really clicked, and I’m proud of and thankful to them all.”
Auckland City coach Paul Posa was entirely complimentary of their hosts in his post-match speech, musing that it was the first time in his ‘experienced’ memory that a win had come with such relative ease at Park Island.
“We really needed a win today to get back on track” Posa said.
“To be fair, I think Hawke’s Bay losing Phil Clarke just after half-time did affect the result, but the referee had no choice.
“Recently, we’ve struggled to hit the back of the net – today we couldn’t miss!”
The victory was notable as Auckland reached a full year since they were last beaten in a competitive match on New Zealand soil – a 3-1 play-off loss to YoungHeart Manawatu at Memorial Park, Palmerston North.
Auckland’s only other competitive defeat was a 3-0 loss to Atlante in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009.
The defending champions also look strong possibilities to become the first team to make it through the NZFC regular season unbeaten.
Hawke’s Bay United can now watch with interest as Auckland City do battle with Canterbury next weekend, to see whether they will play the mainlanders again in the first week of the semi-finals.
In the other result that mattered to Bay fans, Wellington sealed their presence in the play-offs when the Stu Jacobs men took a 2-1 victory off Canterbury.
Canterbury is virtually assured of a play-off place with one game to spare.
Only the highly unlikely scenario of a cricket score defeat in their final match with Auckland would see Otago United qualify at Canterbury’s expense.
Elsewhere, Waitakere United took pole-position in the league by dispatching Waikato FC 4-2, and they now must wait on Auckland City’s final two league fixtures to see whether they can retain their own ‘Minor Premiers’ title.
Auckland City FC
23. Richard GILLESPIE [gk]
1. Jacob SPOONLEY [gk]
2. Sam HALLIGAN
3. Ian HOGG (off 56')
3. Phil CLARKE
4. Sam CAMPBELL
4. Chris GREATHOLDER
5. Matt WILLIAMS
6. Jonathan TAYLOR (c)
6. Ki-Hyung LEE
7. Matt HASTINGS (off 62')
7. James PRITCHETT (off 80')
8. Leon BIRNIE
8. Chad COOMBES
11. Andrew ABBA (off 69')
11. Daniel KOPRIVCIC
16. Marama THOMPSON
15. Ivan VICELICH (c)
17. George BARBAROUSES (off 69')
16. Jason HAYNE
21. Stuart FERGUSON
17. Adam MCGEORGE (off 57')
1. Shaun PETA [rgk]
18. Paul GOTHARD [rgk]
9. Danny WILSON
9. Paul URLOVIC
10. Joachim RANDE (on 69')
13. Alex FENERIDIS (on 57')
12. Sam JACOB (on 69')
21. Riki VAN STEEDEN (on 80')
22. Fergus NEIL (on 62')
22. Adam DICKINSON (on 56')
=2 yellow cards
= red card
FULL TIME: HBU 1 AKL 6