Words: ACFC Media
Tuesday 13 July 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - José Figueira reflects on Sunday's Chatham Cup classic with Birkenhead United as goalkeeper Conor Tracey's saves get the Navy Blues through to the last eight.
Auckland City FC surrendered a 2-0 lead in an intense and exciting encounter at a packed Shepherds Park to trail 3-2 before skipper Cam Howieson equalised with four minutes to play in extra time.
Tracey, whose mistake led to the concession of a soft goal in the 2-1 win over Northern Rovers nine days prior, then stepped up to hand the Navy Blues victory with a series of super saves to deny Nathan Lobo, Josh Turner and Sam Burfoot.
Adam Thurston, Mario Ilich and Angus Kilkolly executed perfect penalty kicks to earn a 3-1 win via penalties.
"It was a classic Cup tie. We started the game very well and I thought the first half we deserved to be two goals up, could've had a third, and it was a near perfect half of football.
"But we didn't deal with one of their key weapons which was the long throw-in, flick on and second phase header.
"Second half we did well to maintain control but as the half went on their intensity and aggression ruffled us and caused us a few problems which is something we'll have to reflect on and deal with a little bit better in future," Figueira said.
With the Navy Blues lead turned on its head, Reid Drake was then sent off for a second bookable offence, leaving ten-man Auckland City FC with a nervy task of seeing the game through to penalty kicks.
Andrew Blake and Adam Thurston were both thrown into the mix to freshen up the side.
"The changes we made had a good impact and we stuck to our task, even when we were down to ten men we created two good opportunities to score on the break.
"We practised our penalties during the week, our routine, who was going to take them and, of course, the work Conor does with Enaut (Zubikarai) and Cam (Brown) paid off.
"Conor is the type of character who has high standards and thats what Enaut has brought to the goalkeeping group," he said.
THE PENALTY SHOOT-OUT
Birkenhead v Auckland City - Chatham Cup (Penalty Shootout) https://t.co/XXOPDHdQmy— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) July 11, 2021
Auckland City FC have now been involved in five penalty shoot-outs and have won four and lost just one, two at the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco against Moghreb Tetouan and Cruz Azul, and two against Team Wellington, the first a defeat in the Charity Cup final in 2014, the other a OFC Champions League final against Team Wellington in Fiji in 2015 which ended in victory.
"Once the penalty shoot-out started, I reminded the players to have faith in Conor, he's got this, he works tirelessly and if you stick to your jobs, we'll come through and that's whats happened.
"I'm delighted for Conor - down one week and this week he's been a hero for the club in the Chatham Cup," he said.
Auckland City FC's next match is away to Hamilton Wanderers in Northern League action on Saturday 17 July 2021 at 3.00pm NZDT.
And Figueira could have the services of former New Zealand striker Myer Bevan to call on.
"Hamilton Wanderers enjoyed a big Chatham Cup win and they've got their eyes set on making the top four. We've got some tired bodies and we'll rest them early next week then refocus for Wanderers.
"Myer Bevan is back in the mix, Addison Stewart has been doing well but to have someone of Myer's qualities at our disposal will be big for us in coming weeks.
Chatham Cup 4th Round
Sunday 11 July 2021
Birkenhead United 2 (3) 3 (Alex CONNOR-McLEAN 41', Sanni ISSA 63', Josh TURNER 96')
Auckland City FC 2 (3) 3** (Angus KILKOLLY 12'-pen, Jordan VALE 27', Cam HOWIESON 101')
*Reid DRAKE (AC) red card 113 minutes
**Auckland City FC win 3-1 on penalties
AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 4. Mario BILEN, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Reid DRAKE, 14. Jordan VALE (17. Andrew BLAKE 91'), 21. Ilham HAMEEDI (8. Adam THURSTON 101'), 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 12. Sam BROTHERTON.
1. Josh TURNER - saved
2. Andrew CROMB - goal
3. Nathan LOBO - saved
4. Sam BURFOOT - saved
AUCKLAND CITY FC
1. Mario ILICH - goal
2. Angus KILKOLLY - goal
3. Adam THURSTON - goal
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
CHATHAM CUP 4th ROUND
SATURDAY 10 JULY 2021
Cashmere Technical 3-0 Christchurch United
Hamilton Wanderers 5-1 Ngaruawahia United
Miramar Rangers 4-1 Lower Hutt City
North Shore United 1-0 Waiheke United
South City Royals 1-4 Otago University
SUNDAY 11 JULY 2021
Melville United 2-1 Bay Olympic
Western Suburbs 2-0 Waterside Karori
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC