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Chastening day for Navy Blues

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 14 August 2021

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC are Northern League champions despite a 4-3 defeat by Birkenhead United at sun-soaked Shepherd's Park today.

The Navy Blues needed just a point to become Northern League champions but a series of defensive blunders and ruthless finishing by Birkenhead United meant José Figueira's side had to rely on Auckland United dropping points to North Shore United.

That result came through for Figueira and City to seal the title but it was far from a party atmosphere after a chastening afternoon in Beach Haven.

The opening goal came after Angus Kilkolly pulled clear down Birkenhead United's right before picking out Stewart Addison who had the easiest of tap ins past goalkeeper Damian Hirst on 12 minutes.

But City's bright start fell apart at the seams when United scored twice in the space of a minute when Ardri McArthur bundled the ball past Cam Brown only for Luke Jorgensen to capitalise on a vulnerable City defence to hand the home side a shock lead.

City hit back five minutes later through Kilkolly after United's defence hesitated thinking the ball had gone out from a Stewart corner only for referee Nick Waldron to award the Navy Blues striker the goal.

Sanni Issa, who had a tremendous game for United, tested Brown on the half hour mark when he fizzed in a beautiful volley the Navy Blues keeper parried away with open hands at the near post.

United retook the lead when more hesitation from the Navy Blues backline allowed Alex Grieve space to re-restablish the home side's lead eight minutes before the break.

Hirst denied City an equaliser moments later when he flung himself at Kilkolly's feet before a defender cleared off the line from a Reid Drake follow through as United clung on to their advantage.

Another former Navy Blue, United skipper Sam Burfoot, then spurned a great chance to give United a two goal buffer when he got in behind the City midfield only to miscue his shot with just Brown to beat.

Grieve made up for Burfoot's miss when he capitalised on a mistake by Sam Brotherton before drawing Brown and finishing low to the keeper's right on the hour mark.

The Navy Blues kept pushing for a goal to get back into the game and Dylan Manickum went close when he saw an effort graze the Birkenhead United crossbar.

United could've added a fifth when Grieve got in behind the City defence but elected to shoot from an awkward angle rather than pick out an unmarked team-mate.

Kilkolly scored his second goal with the last kick of the game to give the final score some respectability deep into additional time. 

For United, the victory all but confirmed their top four place and a berth in the National League Championship round and made them just the third team this winter to beat Auckland City FC alongside Chatham Cup semi-finalists Miramar Rangers and North Shore United, the latter defeating City in the league in early May.

The Navy Blues next match is away to Western Springs on Tuesday 17 August at Seddon Field at 7.30pm NZDT.

Ends

Match Result
Northern League
Saturday 14 August 2021
Birkenhead United 4 (Ardri McARTHUR 15', Luke JORGENSEN 16', Alex GRIEVE 37', 58')
Auckland City FC 3 (Addison STEWART 12', Angus KILKOLLY 21', 90+5')
HT: 3-2.

AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 9. Angus KILKOLLY, 10. Dylan MANICKUM, 11. Reid DRAKE, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 17. Andrew BLAKE, 20. Addision STEWART, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

SUBS NOT USED: 18. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH, 4. Mario BILEN, 8. Adam THURSTON, 14. Jordan VALE.

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

OTHER RESULTS

WEDNESDAY 11 AUGUST 2021
North Shore United 3-2 Melville United

FRIDAY 13 AUGUST 2021
Western Springs 1-1 Bay Olympic

SATURDAY 14 AUGUST 2021
North Shore United 1-1 Auckland United
West Coast Rangers 0-1 Manukau United
Hamilton Wanderers 4-3 Northern Rovers
Melville United 0-1 Eastern Suburbs AFC

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