Words: ACFC Media
Friday 11 March 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC returned to winning ways after a routine victory over near neighbours Metro FC at the Croatian Cultural Centre in Te Atatu this evening.
With head coach Albert Riera isolating as a precaution, assistant coach Ivan Vicelich took control of first team matters and he would've been pleased with what he saw.
City started with three key changes as Cam Brown, Ryan De Vries and Reid Drake were restored to the starting line-up with Conor Tracey, Aidan Carey and Dylan Manickum all making way.
Angus Kilkolly was unavailable while Brian Kaltack was away on Vanuatu international duty.
Otherwise, Vicelich used the core of the group that earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Western Springs on Tuesday night.
Metro FC came into the game like so many other sides, Auckland City FC included, with their pre-season plans disrupted due to Covid-19 and that made a major difference against a City side that was in ruthless form in front of goal.
NEWS - Cameron Howieson, Brian Kaltak get international calls— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) March 11, 2022
Auckland City FC's Cam Howieson & Brian Kaltack get nod for New Zealand and Vanuatu
| @PhototekNZ https://t.co/LcG4VeQcHV pic.twitter.com/cDneQrZYRw
Veteran defender, Mario Bilen, Brooklyn Heath and the dangerous Honggyu Han lined up for Metro FC but it wasn't to be their night as City took control.
Midfielder Reid Drake opened the scoring on 17 minutes after getting the last touch on a goal bound Joe Lee effort with Lee doubling the advantage only moments later.
Ryan De Vries showed he's lost none of his sharpness in front of goal when he notched the third just after the half hour and further goals for Drake and skipper Cameron Howieson gave Vicelich's team a 5-0 cushion a the break.
The tempo of the match subsided in the second half with both teams making regular changes to what was essentially an opportunity to test players and improve fitness levels.
Substitute Aidan Carey chimed in with a sixth goal after a shot deflected off a post and fell to the young midfielder to sweep home.
Vicelich then gave a senior debut to youngster Will Eng who nearly made an immediate impact when he latched onto a ball then steered an effort goalwards that clipped the upright.
There was also a debut for Gerard Garriga, the Spanish-born former Waitakere United midfielder.
Vicelich was pleased with what he saw tonight but he also had encouraging words for Metro FC.
"I think the application from the boys was really good. The players worked very hard and worked on a few things from during the week and obviously the fitness is improving as we get closer to the season.
"It was good to score some goals as well. Its always pleasing to score quality goals but its pleasing when you create a lot of chances and maintain intensity.
"The young players have done very well for us and impressed us.
"There's a few new faces among them and what we've noticed is that they've settled in well and look like they're enjoying it.
"Metro FC at times looked good as well at times.
"They've got some very good quality players in that group and I'm sure they'll work hard on their preparations and fitness and be ready for the new season.
"We're nearly where we want to be and we're fine tuning things at the moment.
"We've got a few to come in who have been isolating and our hope is, like everyone else in football, that they can all stay fit, healthy and well."
Auckland City FC's next pre-season friendly is scheduled for March 19, 2022, against Mount Albert Ponsonby AFC at Croatian Club with a 2.30pm kick-off.
This, of course, is conditional on the impact of Covid-19 on both squads.
Friday 11 March 2022
Auckland City FC 6 (Reid DRAKE 17', 39', Joe LEE 20', Ryan DE VRIES 33', Aidan CAREY 61')
Metro FC 0
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (8. Gerard GARRIGA 72'), 3. Adam MITCHELL ( 23. Alfie ROGERS 61'), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 11. Ryan DE VRIES (21. William ENG 83'), 13. Nathan LOBO (22. Adam BELL 61'), 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Joe LEE (19. Liam GILLION 72'), 17. Reid DRAKE, 19. Liam GILLION (15. Aidan CAREY 46'), 23. Alfie ROGERS (12. Sam BROTHERTON 46').
SUBS: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK).
COACH: Ivan VICELICH.
Sunday 1 October 2023, 4pm, Kiwitea Street, Auckland