Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 4 June 2022
HAMILTON, New Zealand - A moment of sublime skill by Matt Ellis set Auckland City FC U-23 on their way to a deserved 2-1 win over Melville United U-23 at a sun drenched Gower Park today.
Ellis' goal after 23 minutes in which the midfielder slipped past two defenders before blasting an unstoppable shot beyond Conor Jamieson set the tone for victory as City's youngsters opened up a five point gap between themselves and the chasing pack.
The first half performance by City was as good as any seen so far this season and they were unfortunate not to go into the halftime break two goals up.
But patience gave them their reward when Louie Danielson headed home at the far post near the hour mark to all but rubber stamp victory.
The two goal advantage did not have the desired effect coach Kris Bright was after and when Jakob England converted a penalty kick past Finn Dockerty with eight minutes left to play the result was left hanging by a thread.
VIDEO - Jakob England pulls one back for Melville United U-23
The Navy Blues managed the remainder of the game out but Bright was far from enthused by the second half performance of his side.
"The first half we were fantastic and kept the ball very well and we didn't give Melville too much.
"Christian Gray came in and played the first half and that really helped us at the back.
"Ilham, Matt and Rayan kept the ball and had fantastic games but the second half Melville put pressure on us and our game management wasn't what it should've been.
"We're lacking a bit of experience which is normal for this level.
"Last week we were poor in the first half and when we were made to force things a bit more, we did.
VIDEO - Will Eng goes close for Auckland City FC U-23
6’ | 0-0— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) June 4, 2022
CHANCE, Will Eng
Two chances off corners but good keeping saves them day for the home side pic.twitter.com/scMaNmrUkb
"Today we were very much in control but we got casual. The team knew they were doing well and they slacked off," he said.
Elsewhere in the Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division, Auckland United FC picked up a valuable 3-2 win over Birkenhead United U-23, which allowed City to open up a five point gap between themselves and the chasing pack.
Manukau United U-23 thumped Waiheke United U-23 which means Birkenhead, Melville and Manukau are all on 24 points.
Auckland United U-23s win puts them in fifth place just a single point behind.
Lotto U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 4 June 2022
Melville United U-23 1 (Jakob ENGLAND 82'-pen)
Auckland City FC U-23 2 (Matt ELLIS 23', Louie DANIELSON 58')
AC: 1. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 2. Jesse GAGE (c), 5. Marcel STODDARD, 6. Christian GRAY (7. Legion ROGERSON 46'), 9. Will ENG, 10. Matt ELLIS, 11. Max SUTTON (3. Riley SEXTON 63'), 15. Louie DANIELSON (8. Anthony DUNCAN 68'), 16. Rayan TAYEB, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 22. Adam BELL.
COACH: Kris BRIGHT
ASSISTANT COACH: Paul DRAKE
Eastern Suburbs AFC U-23 0-3 Takapuna AFC U-23
Western Springs U-23s 2-3 Hamilton Wanderers U-23
Manukau United U-23 5-0 Waiheke United U-23
Birkenhead United U-23 2-3 Auckland United FC U-23
Bay Olympic U-23 2-1 North Shore United U-23
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division - League Table
v Wellington Olympic, 11 March 2023, KO: TBC