Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 24 January 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - A last gasp own goal cancels out a brilliant Dylan Manickum strike as the spoils are shared in the latest Gridlock Derby.
The Navy Blues unbeaten run against Eastern Suburbs AFC stretched to 11 games after a 1-1 draw with the Lilywhites at Madills Farm in Kohimarama today.
The day began with the prospect of community transmission of Covid-19 in Northland which echoed memories of last year's Gridlock Derby which was followed by a nationwide lockdown.
While that lingered in the background, the focus for Auckland City FC was opening up a lead over nearest rivals Team Wellington and at the same time extending their unbeaten run against Eastern Suburbs to 11 matches.
In a scrappy, end-to-end and sometimes frantic affair, both teams struggled to carve out clearcut chances but that changed when Manickum produced a sublime solo goal worthy of winning any game with just 15 minutes to play.
Suburbs equalised in the final minute when Adam Mitchell headed into his own net from a well-taken free kick wide on the right.
It was a disappointing end to a game the Navy Blues perhaps could've won thanks to two key elements in the second half.
The first was Daniel Edwards who twice got into great positions for the Lilywhites but failed to properly test Cam Brown. Edwards lead in work was eye-catching and lacked only critical cutting edge.
The second came when Mohamed Awad made a lung bursting run into the Lilywhites box before being teed
up by Logan Rogerson for what should've been a certain goal only for Danyon Drake to save magnificently.
Suburbs resistance was finally broken by a piece of sheer brilliance by Manickum.
Manickum slalomed through a packed Lilywhites defence, drew Danyon Drake and then produced a tidy finish to leave the covering defender no chance.
Manickum's strike was the second time the NZF Futsal Player of the Year has come up with the goods in a Gridlock Derby after he netted the winner for the Navy Blues in a 1-0 victory over the Lilywhites at Fencibles on November 11, 2018.
Suburbs came into this match without having scored a goal against the Navy Blues in more than 377 minutes and that stretched to 467 minutes until Mitchell headed past Brown from an Eastern Suburbs freekick in the last minute.
The draw gives Jose Figueira's team a share of top spot with Team Wellington who produced a come-from-behind 5-2 win over the Wellington Phoenix.
The race for the two remaining playoff positions looks intense with a five point spread from third to eighth.
Hamilton Wanderers balloon looks to have completely burst after they were pulverised 4-1 by a resurgent Hawke's Bay United on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Waitakere United's slide down the table continued after they drew 3-3 with Canterbury United at Seddon Field.
ISPS Handa Men's Premiership
Sunday 24 January, 2021
Madills Farm, Kohimarama
Eastern Suburbs AFC 1 (Own Goal - Adam MITCHELL 90+1')
Auckland City FC 1 (Dylan MANICKUM 78')
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 8. Albert RIERA, 10. Dylan MANICKUM,14. Jordan VALE (17. Andrew BLAKE 82'), 16. Yousif Ali AL-KALISY (21. Maro BONSU-MARO 76'), 19. Logan ROGERSON, 22. Mohamed AWAD (15. Aidan CAREY 90'), 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 11. Tom DOYLE, 18. Conor TRACEY (GK).
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
Saturday 23 January, 2021
Waitakere United 3-3 Canterbury United
Sunday 24 January, 2021
Hamilton Wanderers 1-4 Hawke's Bay United
Team Wellington 5-2 Wellington Phoenix
Thursday 11 August 2022, Nikao Sokattak, Ngahue, 3.00pm NZDT