Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 26 June 2021
MANGERE, New Zealand - A last gasp Reid Drake equaliser denied Manukau United their biggest result of the season in a pulsating 2-2 draw at Centre Park today.
It was Auckland City FC's first competitive match on Centre Park since March 18, 2017, when the Navy Blues thrashed Vanuatu's Malampa Revivors 11-0 in the OFC Champions League - but any notion this game would be as easy were misplaced.
Maro Bonsu-Maro capitalised on a slack moment from Ilham Hameedi before crashing through an Adam Mitchell tackle and finishing under goalkeeper Conor Tracey after 16 minutes.
Bonsu-Maro, who played 31 games and scored 11 goals for Auckland City FC, was a constant threat with his pace and strength causing constant problems.
The home side nearly doubled their lead on 35 minutes when Nicolas Bobadilla found himself one-on-one with Tracey who pulled off a brilliant one-handed save that allowed Sam Brotherton to clear his lines with an open goal beckoning.
A moment later Bonsu-Maro went close to adding another but drove his shot straight at Tracey which allowed the Navy Blues to race clear and equalise through Dylan Manickum whose shot took a cruel deflection beyond Ernest Wong.
Manickum, fresh from his Chatham Cup hat-trick against Tauranga City in which he scored a belter last week, won't mind how the goals go in after what was a tough first half.
The visitors started the second half energetically with Kilkolly forcing two good saves out of Ernest Wong inside the first ten minutes.
The game turned on its head on the hour mark when substitute Jade Mesias bent an incredible curved shot beyond the reach of Tracey to restore United's advantage to 2-1.
Figueria went in search of an equaliser and threw on Andrew Blake and Addison Stewart for Jordan Vale and Ilham Hameedi with 18 minutes left.
Kilkolly had a great chance to equalise but Wong, yet again, pulled off an absolutely brilliant save to keep Rudy Mozr's team in front.
But the drama was turned up a notch when Reid Drake scrambled home an equaliser deep into injury time much to the distress of the passionate home crowd.
Auckland City FC's next Northern League game is on Friday 2 July 2021 at the Croatian Cultural Society under lights when the Navy Blues play host to Northern Rovers.
The match kicks off at 7.30pm NZDT.
Saturday 26 June 2021
Manukau United 2 (Maro BONSU-MARO 16', Jade MESIAS 60')
Auckland City FC 2 (Dylan MANICKUM 38', Reid DRAKE 90+4')
AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Reid DRAKE, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE (17. Andrew BLAKE), 15. Aidan CAREY (2. Mario ILICH), 19. Ilham HAMEEDI (20. Addison STEWART), 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 6. Brian KALTAK.
COACH: José FIGUEIRA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
TEAM MANAGER: Keith COTON
S&C COACH: Adria CASALS
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE
ANALYST: Dan GORDON
SATURDAY 26 JUNE 2021
Bay Olympic 1-1 Auckland United
Northern Rovers 0-1 Melville United
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium