Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 6 November 2016
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Navy Blues stayed top of the Stirling Sports Premiership despite a 0-0 draw with Canterbury United Dragons at Kiwitea Street today.
Played before one of the biggest crowds of the season, Auckland City FC dominated the match for long periods but were unable to find a way past a packed Canterbury United defence and a fine show by goalkeeper Danny Knight.
Canterbury United created few chances of their own but will be delighted with a point that keeps their unbeaten record intact.
The home side created plenty of half-chances but lacked a vital cutting edge in the first half and that theme continued in the second as Canterbury sat on the edge of their own penalty box.
There was a half-hearted penalty shout for the Navy Blues when an Emiliano Tade shot deflected off the arm of Tom Schwarz in the second half.
With 15 minutes left the Navy Blues carved the Canterbury defence wide open when Clayton Lewis sprinted clear down the left before putting in a beautifully weighted ball for the onrushing Ryan De Vries.
De Vries got just enough of a touch on the ball to steer it goalward but Knight pulled off a brilliant save to deny the Navy Blues striker.
Knight was called into action again to stop Joao Moreira from scoring with a spectacular bicycle kick on the edge of the penalty box two minutes later.
Moreira has a considerable physical presence and at well over six feet in height showed grace, strength and technique when he caught hold of the ball. The effort only lacked power.
Knight was the talking point yet again when he took a nasty knock to the head when Moreira, Brock Messenger and the Dragons gloveman all converged on a Clayton Lewis free-kick in the six yard box at the same time.
There was no malice in the moment but plenty of cause for concern with referee Matt Conger deciding a further five minutes were required in additional time.
With Eastern Suburbs losing 4-0 to Hamilton Wanderers and Waitakere United held to a 2-2 draw by Southern United, it is still early days.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx was pleased with the performance but admitted there was some frustration.
"It was a very tough game, very intense and the one on one challenges were tough.
"They sat very deep and didn't really press us that high except at moments towards the end.
"That makes it difficult but we still managed to create chances in the first half that we unfortunately couldn't capitalise on.
"This is what can happen in games if you don't put the ball away. That's life. I'm happy with way the team kept playing and with the belief and concentration we could've slipped up from a counter attack or set-piece.
"Canterbury have some big boys in their team and were waiting for a counter attack or a set-piece so we were very good in that respect.
"We played very well, I'm happy, we'll take the point and keep going. We're only four games its just the beginning," he said.
Auckland City FC hosted the match under the theme of a family day and earlier in the week visited local schools with Clayton Lewis and Alfie Rogers.
Pupils, parents and staff from Edendale Primary, Good Shepherds Primary, Wesley Intermediate and Wesley Primary as well as Dominion Road Primary came to the match and enjoyed a photo and autograph session, free posted and a chance to meet the players.
Tribulietx said the turn out was fantastic and gave the players some encouragement the local community is behind them.
"Its great for the game and the players feel there is a good atmosphere in the stadium with so many children asking for autographs and photographs.
"Its great to see youngsters interested in the game and supporting our team. We need to promote the game to the youngest people in our community and as a result, long term, we have more people playing the game," he said.
Also in attendance were Mount Gravatt Hawks U-12 from Australia who played Central United U-12 beating them 3-2.
Mount Gravatt supplied the ball kids for the Navy Blues match and go into a training session tomorrow with Tribulietx at Kiwitea Street.
Sunday 6 November, 2016
Stirling Sports Premiership
Auckland City FC 0
Canterbury United 0
28 February 2018, Trusts Arena, kickoff: 4pm NZST