Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 15 March 2020
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC restored a three point gap at the top of the ISPS Handa Premiership and won a record sixth Charity Cup after a 2-0 Gridlock Derby win over Eastern Suburbs AFC at Madills Farm today.
There was a sombre start to the day with a moments silence observed to recognise those that died in the Christchurch terror attack last year on what was a sunny but blustery day in Kohimarama.
Two brilliant goals, the first a beautiful header from Brian Kaltak, the second a delightful finish by Myer Bevan, set the Navy Blues apart from the hosts.
The home side looked dangerous on the break in the first half with midfielder Adam Thurston going close with two right foot shots from the edge of the box.
Thurston almost got on the end of another opportunity when Reid Drake bent in a superb ball to the far post that his team-mate missed by mere centimetres.
The best chance of the first half for the visitors came when a Clayton Lewis cross to the far post was hooked acrobatically off the line by Tyler Lissette just before the break.
The action in pictures as Auckland lift the Charity Cup and open up the gap at the top of the table after defeating @ESAFC 2 - 0 earlier today #StrengthInUnity #NavyBlues— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) March 15, 2020
The home side started the second half in strong fashion and nearly grabbed the first goal of the game when Alec Solomons sweetly connected header was blocked by Conor Tracey.
That signalled a change in the flow of the game with Auckland City FC taking full control. Bevan, Tade and Rogerson all had opportunities to score with Danyon Drake pulling off superb saves.
Drake's resistance was finally broken when Kaltak powered home a superb Lewis corner on the hour mark. It was Kaltak's fourth goal in five games and underlined the importance of the Vanuatu international to his side's cause.
The game descended into farce when a dog invaded the playing area and defecated on the pitch during the live broadcast on Sky Sport.
The moment was made more uneasy with defender Adam Mitchell scooping up the deposit and removing it himself to allow the game to continue.
The game was put beyond all doubt when Bevan played a smartly contrived give and go with Tade before rolling the ball past an exposed Drake to make it 2-0.
There was a twist in the tale with just minutes left when Reid Drake clashed with Tom Doyle, Doyle getting booked twice in quick succession, the first for shirt pulling, the second not quite so clear. Reid Drake received a yellow card for his part in the fracas.
Auckland City FC can take a big step towards a seventh consecutive ISPS Handa Premiership title if they can beat Southern United at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 22 March 2020.
Team Wellington - who defeated Southern United 1-0 on Saturday - are hot on the Navy Blues trail, face Waitakere United at David Farrington Park in the capital.
The chase for the playoffs intensifies with fourth place very much up for grabs. Eastern Suburbs AFC hold a precarious one point lead over Hamilton Wanderers while a further two points back sit Tasman United.
Eastern Suburbs face Tasman United at home in their last regular season match on March 29, 2020, but will hope their qualification is sealed much sooner.
Hamilton Wanderers need Eastern Suburbs to fall over and hope they can pick up wins over Hawke's Bay United away (March 22) and Canterbury United at home (March 29).
All of the permutations may be rendered academic if further travel and gathering restrictions are applied by the New Zealand Government as the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic continues to be felt across the globe.
REVIEW | @WaitakereUTD have booked their berth in the play-offs while @AucklandCity_FC and @TeamWelly also notched wins in the fight for top spot— New Zealand Football (@NZ_Football) March 15, 2020
Catch up on all the @ISPSHanda Premiership action https://t.co/2saNBulOVa#ISPSHandaPrem #WhoYouGot @PhotosportNZ pic.twitter.com/mHRv2aWDVf
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 15 March 2020
Eastern Suburbs AFC 0
Auckland City FC 2 (Brian KALTAK 60', Myer BEVAN 89')
Tom DOYLE (Auckland City FC) sent off 90+3'.
AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN (2. Mario ILICH 62'), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Myer BEVAN, 11. Tom DOYLE, 13. Emiliano TADE, 14. Jordan VALE, 20. Logan ROGERSON (10. Dylan MANICKUM 73'), 22. Clayton LEWIS (8. Albert RIERA 86').
SUBS NOT USED: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 17. Andrew BLAKE.
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
Saturday 14 March, 2020
Southern United 0-1 Team Wellington
Waitakere United 5-2 Hawke's Bay United
Sunday 15 March, 2020
Hamilton Wanderers 3-3 Tasman United
Canterbury United 1-1 Wellington Phoenix