Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 17 July 2021
HAMILTON, New Zealand - Auckland City FC have dedicated its 5-0 win over Hamilton Wanderers to the memory of midfielder Mario Ilich's grandfather, Jack, who passed away on Friday.
Club stalwart Jack Ilich, who was a regular attendee at Kiwitea Street, passed away on Friday and a decision was taken by coach José Figueira in conjunction with Mario Ilich before deciding the midfielder would play.
"Mario rang me last night and he was already in Hamilton with his girlfriend. It's testimony to his character that he still wanted to play and the decision for the team to wear black armbands was a straight forward one.
"Mario and the team put on a performance that Jack and the entire Ilich family would've been proud of as well," Figueira said.
Mario Ilich was understandably solemn at the end of what must've been a tough 90 minutes.
"The team really rallied around me today, not just off the pitch but also on it, they were awesome.
"We battled for each other for the entire 90 minutes, scored some good goals and were clinical.
"This club means a lot to me, I first played for Central United when I was four years old and to play National League for Auckland City FC means a lot to me as well.
"I'm sure he (Jack) would've been proud of the boys today with that performance," he said.
GOAL!!! Adam Mitchell scores his first goal for City
And it was to be an extraordinary and poignant day of football with firsts, a devastating comeback and top quality goals amid a torrential downpour.
It was a scintillating City performance against a well-organised and competitive home side who played well enough but simply couldn't keep up with a City side in mood to mess about.
Set plays proved a profitable pathway to goal for City and Adam Mitchell started the ball rolling with his first goal for the club in his 40th appearance when he turned home a second phase ball at close range on 25 minutes.
City doubled their lead when Sergio Senda turned the ball into his own net although it looked more like Myer Bevan's strike than Senda's.
The return of Bevan, playing alongside Angus Kilkolly for the first time, looks an ominous partnership and they showed signs it could be a fruitful connection.
Kilkolly scored the third just after halftime after Cam Howieson forced a cross into the path of the powerful frontman who deftly worked the ball past Tom Parry at the near post.
Bevan wasn't to be denied a goal on his return to City colours when he raced clear of the flat footed Wanderers defence to calmly finish under Parry for the fourth.
The demolition was completed when Brian Kaltak slammed home a rip-snorter of a shot near the edge of the Wanderers penalty area to make it 5-0.
GOAL!!! Angus Kilkolly nets for the Navy Blues
It was a cruel scoreline for Wanderers who looked purposeful, strong and motivated, yet lacked the extra quality needed to stem the tide created by the league leaders.
Figueira was effusive in his praise for the performance of his team in torrential rain, a howling gale and sodden but solid pitch.
"Absolutely delighted with today considering the conditions. We got off to a delayed start and we weren't sure if we were going to go ahead but the team were excellent.
"From start to finish our intensity of how we played and our pressing and the way the players worked hard for each other gave us some great goals and a clean sheet to cap it all off.
"Hamilton Wanderers are a good team. Today was a good bar for us but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. There are some big games coming up on the horizon.
"I said to the players after the game that that's where our performances need to be. We have to play with an edge, play in the moment, play with high intensity and be stubborn.
"Today was one of our most complete performances. Off the ball maybe we have been too nice at times but today we showed great hunger.
GOAL!!! Myer Bevan scores to make it 4-0
84’ | 0-4— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) July 17, 2021
GOAL!!! Myer Bevan races clear from the Wanderers defence and concludes with a calm efficient finish to round off the victory.#HWvAC #NZNationalLeague #StrengthInUnity #NavyBlues pic.twitter.com/penNKiAz5a
"It's great for us that Myer was available. He's been here a matter of weeks and he's slotted in straight into the way we do things.
"Myer and Angus had a good dynamic and we had a few things we worked on with relation to the two of them that paid off today and we've now got two players who are both relentless both on and off the ball.
"They keep defenders on their toes throughout the game. I wasn't sure Myer would last 90 minutes today but he did, he came through well and it's great to have him back."
GOAL!!! Brian Kaltak makes it 5-0
Elsewhere in the Northern League, Auckland United demolished Northern Rovers 6-3 to send the Adam Dickinson-coached side to the bottom of the league.
West Coast Rangers leapfrogged Rovers after they downed Melville United 2-0 while Manukau United heaped on further pressure after they defeated Bay Olympic 3-1.
Eastern Suburbs were the only other team in the top six to pick up a win after they edged North Shore United 4-3 and there was a useful win for Western Springs who beat Birkenhead United 3-2 to move into fifth place.
Saturday 17 July 2021
Hamilton Wanderers 0
Auckland City FC 5 (Adam MITCHELL 25', Sergio SENDRA OG 44', Angus KILKOLLY 54', Myer BEVAN 85', Brian KALTAK 90')
AC: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 19. Myer BEVAN, 20. Addison STEWART (8. Adam THURSTON 56'), 21. Ilham HAMEEDI (22. Kristoff MULLER 74').
SUBS NOT USED: 23. Alfie ROGERS, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).
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 17 JULY 2021
Auckland United FC 6-3 Northern Rovers
Manukau United 3-1 Bay Olympic
West Coast Rangers 2-0 Melville United
Birkenhead United 2-3 Western Springs
North Shore United 3-4 Eastern Suburbs
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium