Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 9 April 2022
HAMILTON, New Zealand - A strong Auckland City FC U-23 side have beaten Hamilton Wanderers U-23s 5-0 at a sunny Porritt Stadium in the Waikato today.
Kris Bright welcomed back first team players Matt Ellis, Angel Berlanga and Kristoff Muller into a strong looking match day squad. The match was prefaced by a moment of silence for long-time Hamilton Wanderers stalwart Dave Algy and a family member of the Wanderers U-23 team.
VIDEO - Angel Berlanga opens the scoring
Auckland City FC U-23s dominated the first half against a well-oreganised and well intentioned Wanderers U-23s team that attempted to play out from the back and hit the Navy Blues on the break.
The hosts were on the backfoot early when Angel Berlanga capitalised on a goal bound effort that the post then allowed him to tap home from close range.
Wanderers struggled to deal with the trickery, skill and pace of Matt Ellis who turned provider of the next goal a half hour later. Ellis, leaving defenders in his wake, clipped an inviting ball into the path of Will Eng who finished from close range after the keeper let Ellis' cross slip through his grasp.
VIDEO - Will Eng scores U-23s second goal
Bright made several substitutions in the second half withdrawing Berlanga, Ellis and Muller for Miguel Murillo, Max Sutton and Stipe Ukich and it paid immediate dividends.
First, Ukich heloped himself to a fine goal midway through the second half before he turned provider for fellow substitute Sutton to sweep home from close range to wrap up the match.
There was time for Eng to make it 5-0 at the end as the home side wilted. Bright was very happy with the performance and result.
"Even thiough it was 5-0 they weren't a bad side. I've been asking for a 90 minute performance from this team and today we finally got what we were looking for.
"Everyone did their job, worked hard, kept the ball, scored goals and kept a clean sheet. "We had a number of good performances it's a hard job identifying individuals.
"We did have a 15-year-old in goal, a 15-year-old at right back who have not started before, and Stipe Ukich, another 15-year-old, came on and scored and set another one up.
"The depth was there and it was nice to see them make a difference at the club at this level.
"It's good to have the likes of Angel Berlanga with us, its like having a coach on the field to talk to the boys during the game, even as they were coming off at the break, he's speaking with them.
"To get the likes of Angel and Matt Ellis playing alongside these youngsters is good for their long term development," he said.
Defender Louie Danielson was also full of praise for the performance. "It was a good match, we played well in the first half and kept the ball very well and it helped to have experience around us with the likes of Angel.
"Second half we wanted to keep the same energy and I thought the team did well to do that, it was great team effort all round.
"I was very happy to play next to Angel. Its greatm, its easy to play next to him, easy, he communicated information all the time.
"Even when he left the pitch, you felt Angel had impacted the team and we just carried on, his presence was always felt," Danielson said.
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 9 April 2022
Hamilton Wanderers U-23 0
Auckland City FC U-23 5 (Angel BERLANGA 18', Will ENG 38', 90'+3', Stipe UKICH 67', Max SUTTON 71') HT: 0-2.
AC: 1. Binath PERERA (GK), 4. Jesse GAGE, 5. Angel BERLANGA (11. Max SUTTON 46'), 8. Matt ELLIS (6. Miguel MURILLO 65'), 9. William ENG, 10. Thomas HOLMES, 15. Louie DANIELSON, 16. Rayan TAYEB, 20. Oscar DUFFY, 21. Kristoff MULLER (29. Stipe UKICH 46'), 23. Adam BELL (30. Woodie WILSON 70')
COACH: Kris BRIGHT. ASSISTANT: Paul DRAKE.
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC