Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 13 March 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Navy Blues U-23 strikers on point as Auckland City FC's youngsters enjoy morale-boosting win over Metro FC U-23s at Auckland Grammar School on Saturday.
Goals by forwards Sam Clegg, Will Eng and two from substitute Stipe Ukich set the youngsters on their way along the way, while there was a one goal each to celebrate for defenders Louie Danielson and Max Sutton.
Auckland City FC U-23 defeated their Metro FC U-23 counterparts by 6-1, matching the first team's efforts from Friday's first team friendly.
Coach Kris Bright was pleased with the manner of the performance over and above the result.
"The score line isn't as important as the quality of the performance at an individual or team level.
"We started the game very well with great intensity and kept possession very well which is always satisfying.
"Metro FC have some good youngsters of their own so it was important to see how far we have progressed in our season preparations against a good opponent.
"There were similarities with the first team game on Friday night where everything seemed just seemed to click for us," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com
There were a number of performances that caught the eye including Marcel Stoddard, deployed into a defensive role, while midfielder Thomas Holmes and the indefatigable Max Sutton were also outstanding.
"A coach always looks to see if the players understand their roles and I feel as a collective we demonstrated that today.
"I would say of the 90 minutes, we were where we want to be as a team for 75 of those minutes and that's encouraging," Bright said.
With things trucking along nicely for the U-23s on the pitch, Bright was equally happy many of his players were also impressing enough at first team level to get minutes on the pitch for Albert Riera's side.
"It's pleasing to see three or four players become part of the first team picture in recent weeks and that they're staying there.
"Adam Bell and Will Eng have seen first team minutes and that strengthens that link between the U-23s to the top tier.
"It's not enough for players to be happy to just stay there, they have to keep working hard to earn that opportunity and learn as much as they can and contribute - that's the message to not only those players getting those chances, but all of our players," he said.
With four goals for his front players Bright explained why it's important players keep their feet on the ground and work hard.
"Our strikers were on good form, they're 15-17 year olds, all performing well, scoring goals and providing assistances.
"I was very happy with Sam (Clegg), Stipe (Ukich) and Will (Eng), they've been fantastic in pre-season.
"If Will isn't scoring goals he's coming up with assists and Stipe and Sam are among the goals.
"But the message to them from myself and Paul remains exactly the same - work hard, be consistent, strive for improvement, learn and earn your opportunities," he said.
Saturday 12 March 2022
Auckland City FC U-23 6 (Sam CLEGG, Max SUTTON, Louie DANIELSON, Stipe UKICH 2)
Metro FC U-23 1 (UNKNOWN)
AC: Finn DOCKERTY (GK), Oscar DUFFY (Woody WILSON 70'), Max SUTTON, Louie DANIELSON (Luka VLASIC 70'), Conan REDDY (Jack TRICKETT 70'), Marcel STODDARD, Miguel MURILLO (Liam QUINN 65'), Thomas HOLMES, Adam BELL (Ethan FOO 55'), William ENG, Sam CLEGG (Stipe UKICH 70').
COACH: Kris BRIGHT
ASSISTANT: Paul DRAKE
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC