Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 14 February 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Jose Figueira and Cam Howieson express satisfaction as Auckland City FC edged closer to their eighth consecutive ISPS Handa Premiership league title after a 2-0 win over an impressive Canterbury United today.
Any title victory would be Figueira's second on the bounce and help secure the Navy Blues a home semi-final on March 6, 2021.
"Our objective is to keep building on this momentum and winning run into the playoffs. We'll face the Wellington Phoenix and Waitakere United as seriously as any other game we've tackled this season," he explained.
Canterbury United gave Auckland City FC one of their toughest tests of the season as the Navy Blues turned in a patchy first half display. And Figueira paid tribute to United's approach.
"Most games, most teams sit a little bit deeper in a mid block, but Canterbury surprised us a bit and pressed high, but in a really coordinated and structured manner. It doesn't matter what teams does that to you, it can be uncomfortable, but we got on top of that in the second half.
"Canterbury United are one of the few teams that have come out and pressed us high and they are a very well organised side and that required a bit of an adjustment from our players.
"At halftime I reminded our players we have been allowed to bring the ball out from the back over the past three or four weeks with a degree of comfort so it was a good test for us early on and we defended those moments really well in those situations.
"We adjusted a couple of things at the break and started to find a few spaces and gaps and get through the gaps in the lines nicely," he continued.
Outstanding for Auckland City FC was goalscorer Logan Rogerson and skipper Cam Howieson who each got on the scoresheet in the second half.
"Logan was great today. A player with his quality influences and impacts games through his runs and movement and getting into the right areas at the right time which is great.
"He's scoring and setting up goals and the bit he might not like doing, but is, is defending and getting back and helping the team which is great to see," he added.
Howieson made a rough start to the game with Canterbury's pressing game congesting the midfield and the Navy Blues skipper went into referee John Rowbury's book for a big challenge on Luke Tongue.
INTERVIEW - Cam HOWIESON
The Navy Blues midfielder shrugged off the incident and went on to have an impressive game.
"I said to Cam at the end of the game I was very happy with how he dealt with that moment when things weren't quite going for him.
"He was getting closed down quickly and he showed real maturity to grow into the game.
"He changed his positioning to find different spaces and started arriving into the box and making things happen and I'm delighted to see that," he said.
Howieson echoed the sentiments of Figueira and explained how difficult Canterbury United proved to be before sending a message to his team-mates as the season reaches its climax.
"Canterbury United were very hard to break down today, they've come on in leaps and bounds as a team. They're very well organised which is why they've picked up so many points lately.
"It meant we had to be very patient and try and break them down and when the penalty came it changed the way things were going.
"I was happy with my game and when we got the penalty I was happy to take it. I broke more into the box more today and created a few things but I'm happy with the team performance overall, its three points and another clean sheet.
"We need to keep ticking along, maintain consistency and keep the highest standards within the squad at training and when it comes to games and build on that momentum into the semi-finals and, if possible, the final."
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.
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