Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 14 February 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC are one step closer to the ISPS Handa Premiership league title after a hard-fought 2-0 win over Canterbury United today.
The visitors aimed to make history by becoming the first Canterbury United side to do the double over the Navy Blues and at the same time enhance their playoff aspirations.
The home side made an error-strewn start to the match with passes going astray under Dragons pressure.
Garbahn Coughlan almost capitalised when he latched onto a wayward pass by Mitchell only for the Navy Blues defender to intervene in the nick of time.
That nervy start was alleviated somewhat when Brian Kaltak's near post header flashed wide of the near post after 15 minutes as Canterbury provided meance on the break and at set-pieces.
The physical nature of the match boiled over when Cam Howieson went into referee John Rowbury's book after a hefty clash with Luke Tongue.
Dylan Manickum drew a top draw save out of Danny Knight when his swerving long range shot almost dipped under the crossbar midway through the first half.
The turning point in the game came when Mohamed Awad was bundled over in the box for a stonewall penalty converted perfectly by skipper Cam Howieson after 70 minutes.
Auckland City FC alnost doubled the advantage through Howieson a moment later when Awad combined beautifully with Logan Rogerson to set up the Navy Blues skipper only for Knight to pull off a brilliant save that gave Tongue a chance to hook the ball off the line.
Rogerson saw the wait for the second was merely a short delay as he raced clear and shot at Knight who saved, the rebound falling to the Navy Blues striker who rolled the ball into an empty net.
With the result looking safe, coach Jose Figueira handed a senior debut to All Whites defender Sam Brotherton.
Elsewhere, there were goals galore in the ISPS Handa Premiership, with Team Wellington battering Eastern Suburbs AFC 7-0 at David Farrington Park.
The win all but seals Team Wellington's top four spot and leaves the Lilywhites hopes dangling by a thread. It was the Lilywhites biggest defeat at National League level since Wellington Diamond United beat them 8-0 in 1974.
In Napier, Hawke's Bay United were made to work hard for their 3-2 victory over Wellington Phoenix. The win keeps United within two points of the chasing pack but they can ill afford anymore slips in their final two regular season matches.
In Sunday's late kick-off, Hamilton Wanderers and Waitakere United produced a five goal thriller with the Kale Herbert-coached side clinching the victory that strengthens their hold on third place but still leaves United in the hunt for a semi-final spot.
Auckland City FC's penultimate ISPS Handa Premiership clash is with Wellington Phoenix on Saturday 20 February, 2021, at Fraser Park, Lower Hutt, at 2pm NZDT.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 14 February 2021
Auckland City FC 2 (Cam HOWIESON 70'-pen, Logan ROGERSON 77')
Canterbury United 0
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (9. Kayne VINCENT 73'), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Yousif AL-KALISY, 19. Logan ROGERSON, 22. Mohamed AWAD (21. Maro BONSU-MARO 83'), 23. Alfie ROGERS (12. Sam BROTHERTON 83').
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 8. Albert RIERA.
HEAD COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA.
Saturday 13 February, 2021
Team Wellington 7-0 Eastern Suburbs AFC
Sunday 14 February, 2021
Hawke's Bay United 3-2 Wellington Phoenix
Hamilton Wanderers 3-2 Waitakere United
Sat 17 April 2021, West Coast Rangers, KO: 3pm, Fred Taylor Park