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Below par City showed grit - Figueira

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 30 May 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - José Figueira proud of gritty performance as Auckland City FC take Dominion Road Derby honours off Auckland United FC in yesterday's top of the table Northern League clash at Kiwitea Street.

The Auckland City FC coach sat through a nerve shredding first 30 minutes as United threw everything into the first Dominion Road Derby but had faith his team would come good, which they eventually did, 3-1. 

"I thought it was a very good game. It was tense, a lot of aggression and it was clear from the off United wanted to press us high, be very physical and get on top of us and try to disrupt our rhythm and how we wanted to play.

"We had some good patches where we played well and some big moments where we didn't take advantage.

"In the second half we attacked the space between the lines a little bit better but, if I'm honest, I thought we were a bit under our usual standards.

"Our touch and our passing was a little bit off but credit to United because they made life difficult. I told the players when games are like that where games are tough you need to grind it to find a way to get through," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.

While there were some top performers in Navy Blue colours, Figueira noted the contribution of goalkeeper Conor Tracey who was in top form and also the incredible scoring form of Angus Kilkolly.

"Conor made two or three very important blocks and saves. He's been great during this run but Conor showed what he can do when United threw bodies in the box and we had to withstand a barrage and he came out to claim or punch. He was great for the team.

"Angus showed a different side of his game yesterday. Jo Dawkins is a very experienced defender and used every trick in the book and more to disrupt Gussy's game.

"But the sign of a good striker is when they can keep their good form going and that's what Gussy showed us yesterday," he said.

Two substitutes played a key role with Dylan Manickum and Reid Drake replacing the injured Emiliano Tade and youngster Ilham Hameedi.

Reid Drake bagged a double off the bench while Manickum was crucial for the third goal, setting up Angus Kilkolly.

Figueira was at pains to remind everyone quality and depth combined with players seizing their opportunity would be vital to success this year.

"My message to our players has always been we need everybody in this squad. Reid is a case in point. The substitutes who come on are always important regardless of the score line.

"Reid was in the right place at the right time and the goals he scored were both two very good finishes.

"For Angus goal huge credit must go to Dylan Manickum. Dylan's been on the fringe of selection of late and he's been frustrated because he always wants to be out there playing.

"He came on and put in a great shift and you could see the effort he put in to win a 40 metre foot race to win the ball and set up Angus for his goal was a great moment.

"Mario Ilich also came on in the second half," he said.

With a Chatham Cup and Northern League double header next weekend, Figueira said he would shuffle his pack and give opportunities to players to get game time.

"There's some players in the squad we will look to bring in for the Chatham Cup game with Ellerslie. Players like Adam Mitchell, who didn't come on today, have been patient, Adam Thurston played in the U-23s today and got a full 90 minutes under his belt. You can expect those players to rotate in for that game.

"It's very important that we get through to the next round. A few of our players remember their last competitive match at this level of football was a defeat to Ellerslie AFC at Michaels Avenue.

"You can take it from me that means we won't be leaving anything to chance and when we've dealt with that challenge our focus will turn to our catch-up game with Bay Olympic on the following Monday," he said.

One major setback yesterday was a serious knee injury to Emiliano Tade. The club record goal scorer crumpled over just before half time and was helped off by physio Matt Payne and team manager Keith Coton in deep discomfort.

"Emiliano has a knee injury and is in a bit of pain. He had a check yesterday and we'll follow up today but it doesn't look great at this stage. Hopefully, its not too long term but we'll know more soon."

Auckland City FC's next matches are on Saturday 5 June and Monday 7 June.

They first face Ellerslie AFC in the Chatham Cup 2nd Round at Kiwitea Street at 2.00pm NZDT then face Bay Olympic at Olympic Park 48 hours later in a Northern League catch-up game.

The latter match is scheduled for a 3.00pm NZDT kick-off.

Ends

Match Details
Chatham Cup 2nd Round
Saturday 5 June 2021
Auckland City FC v Ellerslie AFC
Kiwitea Street, Sandringham
Kick-off: 2.00pm NZDT

Match Details
Northern League
Monday 7 June 2021
Bay Olympic v Auckland City FC
Olympic Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 3.00pm NZDT

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