Reaction - 'A great game with two top teams'

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 15 November 2020

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Jose Figueira is a happy man after his Navy Blues side picked up a controversial 1-0 win over a top quality Eastern Suburbs AFC side at a packed Kiwitea Street today.

An Emiliano Tade penalty in the second half proved the difference between two teams that held nothing back from each other.

The victory gave Auckland City FC their ninth win out of ten over their rivals and sets up next week's trip to Hamilton Wanderers.

"It was a proper derby game but a great way to kick off the season. We had a great crowd, a great surface and a great game and two top teams and it was great to be a part of it.

"Three points was the most important thing but I think the way we performed especially in the second half after we made a few adjustments we managed to control things.

"We caused some real danger in the final third and once we got the goal the ball was in their court to come at us," he said.

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The incident that caught the imagination of most was the penalty awarded against Christian Gray for handball. Figueira admitted he didn't see the incident but suggested the decision balanced up after Cam Howieson had a penalty shout turned down.

"I haven't seen the view of the second penalty but I hear it was a bit contentious but perhaps its balanced out after the incident with Cam Howieson. Maybe it was too early in the game to give it but they balance themselves out.

"I expected a tough game with two teams that play with a lot of high energy and try to have the ball and when one team doesn't have it they're fighting to win the ball back and control the game.

"I wasn't surprised it was a high tempo start to the game and as I said with a few tweaks we made at the break it helped us dictate things a bit better," he said.

Mario Bilen, who came off less than 15 minutes into the match, earned his 150th appearance and earned plaudits from Figueira.

"Mario has an incredible record alongside a number of other players here and its testament to what they've given to the club over a number of years. Mario landed on someone's foot and rolled his foot. Mario being Mario didn't want to come off but he saw sense and realised he needed to be changed.

"The players are in the same boat and had a shorter time to prepare so the first game against a side that will be right up their challenging and I couldn't really ask for more from the players," he said.

Figueira saved his biggest compliments for Navy Blues goalkeeper Cam Brown who turned in a sensational performance alongside his opposite number Danyon Drake.

"The goalkeepers were both fantastic and both deserve a shot at Man of the Match for the way they played. There were same great saves. Danyon made three great saves and Cam at the end had to pull a save out of nothing shows he's a top quality goalkeeper," he said.

Auckland City FC's next game is away to Hamilton Wanderers on Sunday 22 November 2020 at 2pm NZST.

Ends

Match Result
ISPS Handa Men's Premiership
Sunday 15 November 2020
Auckland City FC 1 (Emiliano TADE 66'-pen)
Eastern Suburbs AFC 0
HT: 0-0.

AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN (17. Andrew BLAKE), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 10. Dylan MANICKUM (22. Maro BONSU-MARO), 14. Jordan VALE, 19. Logan ROGERSON (8. Albert RIERA), 20. Emiliano TADE, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

SUBS NOT USED: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 16. Yousif AL-KALISY.

HEAD COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.

Other results:

Saturday 14 November 2020
Wellington Phoenix 0-1 Team Wellington
Canterbury United 0-4 Waitakere United

Sunday 15 November 2020
Hawke's Bay United 0-3 Hamilton Wanderers
Auckland City FC 1-0 Eastern Suburbs AFC

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