Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 2 April 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC U-23 overcame a one goal deficit to register its first win of the season but the margin of victory could've been bigger.
Second half goals by Thomas Holmes and Will Eng cancelled out Emile McArthur's opener for the Navy Blues but poor finishing made the match seem a lot closer than it was.
Auckland City FC U-23 dominated the first half almost totally but chance creation and the taking of chances proved elusive.
Takapuna AFC U-23 presented the Navy Blues with plenty of work on the counter attack with goalkeeper Finn Dockerty called into action to make one save at the feet of an onrushing attacker.
But it was the Navy Blues lack of a cutting edge that was the only blemish on an otherwise enthralling game, especially in the second half.
VIDEO - Auckland City FC U-23 waste chances
Coach Kris Bright had plenty to say after his team's performance praising City's play between the penalty boxes.
"It was a very one-sided game for a 2-1 score line.
"Takapuna AFC U-23 are a very well organised team and I thought we did well to restrict the way they were trying to play.
"But we created our own mistakes and probably had most of the possession.
"Today was a game for a striker and I really wanted to see us play and we had a lot of the ball in their final third.
"But our finishing wasn't up to scratch which kept them in the game for longer," Bright said.
VIDEO - Takapuna AFC U-23 take the lead
Captain Jesse Gage, Will Eng and first team regular Ilham Hameedi shone for Bright's team.
"Jesse Gage was outstanding again. He's been in the team both years and he gave us an assured performance at the back.
"Will Eng worked tirelessly up front and put in a good shift and it was good to see Ilham Hameedi drop down from the first team.
"Ilham made a big difference to how we played as well.
"Our game understanding was excellent. We had to be very patient, we knew a goal would come and maybe the goal against gave us a kick in the pants we needed.
"We seemed to wake up and decide, 'ok, we'll go and score', and we went on from there.
"The game management from us was important because playing for Auckland City FC demands a lot of concentration and maturity," Bright said.
In other matches, Birkenhead United had a 5-1 win over North Shore United, Eastern Suburbs lost at home 2-1 to Hamilton Wanderers and at Gower Park, Melville United thumped Bay Olympic 5-2.
Auckland United FC had a comfortable victory, beating Manukau United 3-0 and Western Springs were too sharp for Waiheke United in a 4-0 rout.
Birkenhead United and Hamilton Wanderers top the division with six points from two games while Auckland City FC sit just behind Melville United in fourth.
Auckland City FC U-23s are away to Hamilton Wanderers U-23s next week at Porritt Stadium.
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 2 April 2022
Auckland City FC U-23
Takapuna AFC U-23
AC: 1. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 2. Ilham HAMEEDI, Adam BELL, Kristoff MULLER, William ENG, Louie DANIELSON, Anthony DUNCAN, Thomas HOLMES, Jesse GAGE, Marcel STODDARD.
SUBS: 6. Miguel MURILLO, 7. Liam QUINN, 11. Max SUTTON, 13. Oscar DUFFY, 22. Stipe UKICH.
COACH: Kris BRIGHT.
ASSISTANT COACH: Paul DRAKE.
Western Springs U-23 4-0 Waiheke United U-23
Manukau United U-23 0-3 Auckland United FC U-23
Eastern Suburbs AFC U-23 1-2 Hamilton Wanderers U-23
North Shore United U-23 1-5 Birkenhead United U-23
Melville United U-23 5-2 Bay Olympic U-23
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC