Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 26 February 2022
PAPAKURA, New Zealand - Auckland City FC U-23 kept up their run of solid performances against senior opposition after they grabbed a creditable 2-2 draw with Papakura City FC at McLennan Park today.
The U-23s picked up draws with North Shore United (2-2) and Northern Rovers (1-1) before slipping to a 0-2 defeat against Metro FC last week but they bounced back to show ongoing improvement.
Finn McCracken opened the scoring after a well worked move that nearly involved every player in Navy Blue getting a touch.
The U-23's second goal came from a fine switch of play that picked out Tayeb who was felled in the box for a penalty kick.
Youngster Stipe Ukich, who recently turned 15, took on the responsibility to netted his first goal.
Papakura City showed a lot of character to bounce back and scored two goals of their own to earn a share of the spoils.
Coach Kris Bright had a lot to be pleased with the performance as his youngsters impressed.
"The last 15 minutes of the first half and second 15 minutes of the second half were quite messy for both teams.
"I was delighted with the first half hour - I thought we were brilliant and dominated possession but Papakura City got on top of us a bit.
"We made quite a few changes in the last 30 minutes but I felt we had full control of the game at the end.
"Overall it was a really good hit out against a senior side who will be in and around the playoffs this season.
"Individual errors keep costing us but its still a very good experience for youngsters who are coming up against senior footballers.
"Making mistakes is absolutely fine and we gave 15 players good minutes today," Bright said.
Bright identified three players who showed improvement and character in a tough game against a senior side expected to do well this season.
"Stipe grew into the game when he came on and scored a good goal and got some good chances.
"Will Eng has worked hard throughout pre-season and was brilliant for us.
"Conan Reddy came in for Jesse Gage quite early on and he acquitted himself well at centre back.
"Conan plays as a midfielder most of the time but showed he can adapt.
"It was another good hit out for us - its exciting to have a new group of 15-16 year old holding their own amongst a group of 17 and 18 year olds.
"The passages of play against Northern League senior sides is very impressive and its pleasing to see a few graduate to train with Albert Riera's first team," Bright said.
Auckland City FC U-23 face Albany United at Auckland Grammar School Turf on Saturday 5 March 2022 at 9.30am NZDT.
Saturday 26 February 2022
Papakura City FC 2
Auckland City FC U-23 2 (Finn McCRACKEN, Stipe UKICH [pen])
AC: Finn DOCKERTY (GK), Jesse GAGE (Conan REDDY 10'), Louie DANIELSON, Anthony DUNCAN (Oscar DUFFY 65'), Marcel STODDARD, Rayan TAYEB, Adam BELL, Trialist, Finn McCRACKEN (Stipe UKICH 30'), Alex SMITH (Ethan FOO 60'), William ENG.
COACH: Kris BRIGHT.
ASSISTANT: Paul DRAKE.
Saturday 8 October 2022, Cashmere Technical, 330pm, Kiwitea Street