Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 26 March 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC U-23 and Melville United U-23 shared the spoils after an entertaining 2-2 draw at Auckland Grammar School today.
The Navy Blues U-23s opened the scoring when Will Eng headed home from a corner only for Leslie Kivolyn to equalise five minutes later.
The match became bogged down between the penalty areas after that until Thomas Holmes lashed home a beautiful long range goal with 15 minutes left.
That strike appeared to hand the home team victory until Shaun Ledley levelled from the penalty spot after Louie Danielson brought down a Melville United U-23 player.
That was a hammerblow for Kris Bright's side who very nearly ended up losing the match but for a brilliant last minute save by Finn Dockerty.
"It was a fair result but Melville had the better of us in the first half.
"We made some changes to our shape at the break and we created a lot more chances.
GOAL!!! Will Eng scores for the Navy Blues U-23
"We should have put the game to bed after Thomas' (Holmes) goal but individual errors cost us at the end.
"In fairness, Melville United are a very good team, they kept the ball very very well.
"They're very well structured and Sam Wilkinson and his coaches have done a great job at the club.
"Their players played very well and have a lot of potential."
Outstanding for Auckland City FC were defenders Jesse Gage, Marcel Stoddard and, of course, Thomas Holmes, whose goal was top drawer.
"That was Thomas first start for the U-23s in a league game and did very well in midfield," Bright said.
Another player for whom it was a big day was Liam Quinn back after two years out with injury.
"It was good to see Liam come back particularly after what he's been through. I thought he did very well," he added.
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 26 March 2022
Auckland City FC U-23 2 (Will ENG 5', Thomas HOLMES 74')
Melville United FC U-23 2 (Leslie KIVOLYN 10', Shaun LEDLEY 83'-pen)
AC: 1. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 4. Jesse GAGE, 5. Marcel STODDARD, 7. Liam QUINN (6. Miguel MURILLO 33'), 8. Anthony DUNCAN (13. Oscar DUFFY 57'), 9. William ENG, 10. Thomas HOLMES, 11. Max SUTTON (14. Sam CLEGG 46'), 15. Louie DANIELSON (3. Jack TRICKETT 84'), 16. Rayan TAYEB, 19. Stipe UKICH.
SUBS NOT USED: 12. Woodie WILSON.
COACH: Kris BRIGHT.
ASSISTANT: Paul DRAKE.
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC