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Top spot jostle intensifies

Words: ACFC Media

Friday 15 January 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The race for the ISPS Handa Premiership minor title intensifies when Auckland City FC play host to high-flyers Hamilton Wanderers on Saturday at Kiwitea Street.

Wanderers are enjoying a fine campaign as they chase their first ever semi-finals berth and despite losing some momentum in recent rounds have proved a handful for the more fancied clubs.

Derek Tieku's brace last November handed Herbert's side a satisfying 2-0 victory at Porritt Stadium to alongside their 2-1 pre-season friendly win over the Navy Blues and coach Jose Figueira is wary of a team with history beckoning them.

"The memories of our first round defeat to Wanderers are still fresh in our minds and is a reminder of the challenge Kale Herbert and his Hamilton side will provide us once again.

"Hamilton put in another strong display last week and picked up a 1-1 draw against Team Wellington. That result proves this season's competition is as competitive as ever, with anyone able to take points off anyone on their day.

"It's on us to build off the strong performance we had in our last game with Waitakere United. One of the most pleasing factors of our performance last week was the focus, intensity and mentality of our game.

"We started the game with a good tempo moving the ball with speed, precision and purpose that allowed us to attack the spaces and provide the best conditions for our players to showcase their abilities.

"We want to try and solidify our current league position with another strong performance on Saturday and continue to build on our current momentum," Figueira said.

Wanderers have lost just once in seven games and have yet to be beaten away from home picking up wins over Canterbury United (3-2), Hawke's Bay United (3-0) and a draw with Waitakere United (1-1).

Intriguingly, Wanderers are winless in their past four games with a defeat to Eastern Suburbs AFC (1-2) and three 1-1 draws with each of Waitakere United, Wellington Phoenix and Team Wellington.

Their last victory in the league was on November 29, 2020, in Christchurch.

The Porritt-Stadium-based side have never won at Kiwitea Street with four consecutive defeats to show for their efforts.

Emiliano Tade continues to work towards full recovery from a calf injury he picked up last year, while competition for places is heating up as the ISPS Handa Premiership moves into the crucial second half of the season.

Elsewhere, unbeaten Team Wellington face a tricky away game at resurgent Hawke's Bay United looking to leapfrog the Navy Blues should they slip up on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Canterbury United host Eastern Suburbs AFC where a win for the Dragons would throw them a playoff lifeline.

Wellington Phoenix early season promise has fizzled somewhat, a situation Waitakere United will look to exploit when they meet in Lower Hutt on Sunday.

The game kicks off at 2.00pm NZST at Kiwitea Street.

NZF MARKETING AND PARTNERSHIPS - FACE PAINTING, SPOT PRIZES & CROSSBAR CHALLENGE 

New Zealand Football's marketing and partnerships team will be on site to provide face painting, spot prizes and a crossbar challenge.

Ends

Match Details
ISPS Handa Men's Premiership
Saturday 16 January, 2021
Auckland City FC v Hamilton Wanderers
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Kick-off: 2.00pm NZST

AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Mario BILEN, 6. Brian KALTACK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Tom DOYLE, 12. Abdulbaset KHALIFA, 13. Deandre VOLLENHOVEN, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aiden CAREY, 16. Jordan VALE, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 22. Mohamed AWAD, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.

OTHER FIXTURES

Saturday 16 January, 2021
Canterbury United v Eastern Suburbs AFC
English Park, Christchurch - kick-off: 3.30pm NZDT

Sunday 17 January, 2021
Hawke's Bay United v Team Wellington
Bluewater Stadium, Napier - kick-off: 1pm NZDT

Wellington Phoenix v Waitakere United
Fraser Park, Lower Hutt - kick-off: 4pm NZDT

MILESTONES
Sunday's game is the tenth encounter between the two clubs with Hamilton Wanderers yet to notch a positive result at Kiwitea Street in their four previous visits. The top goalscorer in this fixture is Emiliano Tade who has netted seven times in eight games against Hamilton Wanderers.

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Hamilton Wanderers registered their first competitive win over the Navy Blues last November when Derek Tieku's brace handed Kale Herbert's team an historic 2-0 victory at Porritt Stadium.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

2020-21
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) lost 0-2 (Derek TIEKU 2)

2019-20
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 5-0 (Logan ROGERSON, Own Goal, David BROWNE, Myer BEVAN 2)
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 3-1 (Emiliano TADE 2, Myer BEVAN | George OTT)

2018-19
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 1-0 (Maro BONSU-MARO)
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 3-2 (David BROWNE, Maro BONSU-MARO, Cam HOWIESON | Tommy SEMMY, Martin BUENO)

2017-18
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 1-0 (Micah LEA'ALAFA)
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 6-0 (Ryan DE VRIES 2, Callum McCOWATT, Emiliano TADE 2, Own Goal)

2016-17
v. Hamilton Wanderers (A) won 5-0 (Joao MOREIRA 2, Emiliano TADE 2, Ryan DE VRIES)
v. Hamilton Wanderers (H) won 4-1 (Emiliano TADE, Clayton LEWIS 2, Fabrizio TAVANO | Stafford DOWLING)

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