Smith inspires as U-23s draw

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 12 February 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC U-23 claimed a notable draw in their second pre-season fixture at Auckland Grammar today, after bouncing back from a goal down against an experienced Northern Rovers 1-1.

Coach Kris Bright was able to name another youthful side led by skipper Alex Smith with a number of last season's title winning side also featuring including Dockerty, Finn McCracken, Dempsey Thomas, Louie Danielson, Sam Clegg and Marcel Stoddard.

Rovers side featured a former Navy Blue in Kris Carpenter while Quinlan and Jack Caunter were among a small number of senior players who added strength and purpose to their side. Louis Middeldorp, a National

Rovers started the game at a rip-roaring pace with Jason Quinlan opening the scoring inside the first five minutes on a humid day in central Auckland.

The visitors could've been three up when they missed a close range header then saw the ball strike Finn Dockerty's right hand upright in a blistering start.

There was a setback for Rovers coach Andrew Clay when goal scorer Quinlan went off injured ten minutes before the break.

Auckland City FC U-23 responded well - their defence withstood a glut of pressure and while they created very little in the first half, it was their perseverance in the second that pleased Bright's eye.

When the pace and intensity of this friendly started to ease, City played their best football with the equaliser coming midway through the second half courtesy of Clegg.

The 1-1 draw sits alongside City's 2-2 draw with North Shore United as a solid start to a football year that has a somewhat unknown and peculiar feel to it as Covid-19 spreads through New Zealand.

Bright reflected positively on the day's efforts.

"We struggled in the first half against a very well organised, experienced and well regimed 4-4-2.

"We have some very young players who didn't quite understand how to break that down but we changed things in the second half.

"But we gave the players some different options to consider and they were unbelievable in the way they applied that in the second half.

"We had a big chunk of possession against an experienced opponent like we did last week against North Shore United.

"I'm very pleased with the players particularly considering there were a few 15 and 16 year olds out there.

"Oscar Duffy is only 15 and hasn't really played in a holding midfield role before and he's performed very well.

"To play in an U-23 side against an experienced opponent when you're that age, I think he did fantastic.

"Alex Smith (pictured), the skipper, was excellent, he was everywhere and he's in a good process of development in our pathway and he showed that today.

"Jesse Gage was also brilliant and I'm very happy with the way he played," Bright said.

Auckland City FC U-23 is in action again on Friday 18 February 2022 when they face Metro FC at Auckland Grammar at 7pm NZDT.


Match Result
Saturday 12 February 2022
Auckland City FC U-23 1 (Sam CLEGG)
Northern Rovers 1 (Jason QUINLAN)
HT: 0-1.

AC: Finn DOCKERTY (GK), Marcel STODDARD, Jesse GAGE, Louis DANIELSON, Anthony DUNCAN, Ethan FOO, Alex SMITH (c), Thomas HOLMES, Finn McCRACKEN, Max SUTTON, Will ENG.

SUBS: Anthony MOODIE (GK), Woodie WILSON, Oscar DUFFY, Henry HARDING, Dempsey THOMAS, Kairo JACOBS, Sam CLEGG.


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