Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 21 March 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Team Wellington have won the ISPS Handa Premiership after a convincing 4-2 win over Auckland City FC at QBE Stadium in front of 1,487 fans in Albany.
Scott Hales side suffered an early setback when inspirational skipper and goalkeeper Scott Basalaj was dropped to tge bench after the warm-up and replaced by youngster Zac Jones.
Team Wellington dominated the first ten minutes without penetrating but that soon changed when they were awarded a penalty kick after Jack-Henry Sinclair was felled in the box.
Hamish Watson's penalty was superbly saved by Cam Brown only for Andy Bevin to react the fastest to slam home the rebound.
Alfie Rogers sparked his side back to life when he brilliantly evaded two challenges before whipping in a great pass that found Mohamed Awad.
The ball worked its way to Yousif Al-Kalisy whose shot was well off target. Al-Kalisy was at the centre of controversy when he appeared to be bundled over in the Team Wellington box for what looked a decent shout for a penalty that referee Matt Conger turned down.
But Team Wellington looked comfortable when Jack-Henry Sinclair doubled the capital men's advantage moments later but Auckland City FC were handed a lifeline when Emiliano Tade went down in the box for another penalty which the Argentine striker swept home on 35 minutes.
Team Wellington seemed to lose their grip on the match totally at this point
The Navy Blues were nearly level from a brilliantly worked freekick that forced Zac Jones into a vital save low to his left.
But Jose Figueira's side were level when Dylan Manickum completed a sublime move that started with Cam Howieson and Rogers on halfway and was sweetly ended by Tade then his long haired team-mate.
The second half started slowly but burst into life when Tade latched onto a sublime pass by Awad. Tade evaded Taylor Schirjvers then blasted a vicious shot at Jones who parried when it looked more likely the Argentine would score.
Team Wellington punished Auckland City FC just a minute later when Ollie Whyte lashed home a brilliant goal to nudge his side in front on 55 minutes.
Brown was then forced into a superb save at the the far post when Watson found space to lash a powerful volley goalwards. The game was put beyond the reach of the Navy Blues when Bevin struck with 20 minutes left to play.
Auckland City FC were handed an unlikely lifeline when they were awarded a penalty only for Tade's panenka to rebound off the crossbar. Tade put the ball in the net directly from the rebound and a free-kick was awarded to Team Wellington.
It all starts again next week... pic.twitter.com/BF3r2HHtvz— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) March 21, 2021
The defeat was just the fourth time in the history of the competition Auckland City FC conceded four goals, three of those occasions to Team Wellington, including the 2015-16 grand final. Waitakere United defeated Auckland City FC 4-1 in a regular season match in 2017-18.
Defeat for the Navy Blues was their third grand final defeat to Team Wellington and the club's fifth grand final loss overall.
Victory for Team Wellington gave the David Farrington-based club its third grand final title in 17 years.
Auckland City FC's attentions now turn towards their debut match in the Lotto NRFL Premier Division when they take on Bay Olympic at Crum Park on Saturday 27 March, 2021.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 21 March 2021
Auckland City FC 2 (Emiliano TADE 35'-pen, Dylan MANICKUM 42')
Team Wellington 4 (Andy BEVIN 16', 69', Jack-Henry SINCLAIR 30', Oliie WHYTE 55')
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (11. Kayne VINCENT 89'), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 14. Jordan VALE (17. Andrew BLAKE 74'), 16. Yousif Al-KALISY (13. Dre VOLLENHOVEN 69'), 20. Emiliano TADE, 22. Mohamed AWAD, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 4. Mario BILEN, 8. Albert RIERA, 12. Sam BROTHERTON.
COACH: Jose FIGUEIRA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium