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Self-belief key for U-23 victory

Words: ACFC Media

Monday 31 May 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC U-23 midfielder Alex Smith says self-belief was key to the Navy Blues come-from-behind 3-2 win over Auckland United FC U-23 in the Lotto NRFL Premier Division on Saturday.

Auckland City FC trailed 2-0 at the break despite turning in a good first half performance but Smith says the belief City could turn the game around was a feature of the half time break.

"It was a crazy game, to be honest, it was one of those ones where it was a different game in each half. We did alright in the first half but we made two defensive mistakes.

"The attitude in the dressing room was positive and the lads were telling each other "we're going to win this game" and we came out and put in a great team performance and it was good to get a goal as well," he said.

VIDEO - Addision Stewart scores winning goal

Smith, who has been an ever present for the U-23s this season, has been shuffled around midfield in recent weeks with first team players dropping in to get 90 minutes under their belt, but its a shift Smith doesn't mind - he sees it more as an opportunity to learn.

It's also a carrot to reach for, the possibility of a first team opportunity with Aidan Carey, Ilham Hameedi, Brooklyn Heath and Addison Stewart all getting chances.

"In centre midfield, I'm more of a number eight and like to play further forward, but in the last few weeks I've been more of a defensive midfielder but its been good.

"Playing next to the likes of an Adam Thurston or Reid Drake makes it so much easier. They're loud, they feed you information and they're great to learn from and they give everything.

"Everyone knows the pathway is there between the U-23s and the first team and it keeps everyone's levels up. We've all got a shot at making it," he said.

While Smith led the comeback with City's first goal, he says grafting at the family landscape business during the week keeps his feet on the ground.

"It's not all that bad because its a family run business and I do spend time in the office and when I'm needed on-site, then I'm available.

"It's all good, it's a bit of hard work and it can be tough lifting tiles all day but I try to keep a balance," he said.

Smith reflected on Addison Stewart's remarkable winning free-kick with enthusiasm.

"I saw it go up and over and I had a feeling it was going to trouble the goalkeeper or go top bins and that's exactly what happened to cap off a very good comeback. It was a quality strike."

Ends

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