Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 11 June 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Ten man Auckland City FC rally to beat spirited Takapuna AFC 4-0 at Taharoto Park today.
The visitors had their work cut out with no less than four players hit with Covid-19 including Cam Howieson, goalkeeper Conor Tracey, defenders Nathan Lobo and Sam Brotherton, while Alfie Rogers was absent due to work commitments.
That meant changes for coach Albert Riera who shifted Aidan Carey to right back, Jordan Vale to left, Cam Brown returning between the sticks for just the second time this season and starts for Emiliano Tade, who skippered the side, and a long awaited debut for Christian Gray.
Youngsters Ilham Hameedi and Liam Gillion each earned starts, Hameedi's first since the 26 March, while Gerard Garriga made it back to back appearances for the first time in two months.
Takura Iwata, 39, returned to the bench alongside another familiar face in goalkeeper Danyon Drake, currently first team head coach at Metro FC, but providing goalkeeper cover with Finn Dockerty and Tracey both unavailable.
VIDEO - Liam Gillion scores the opener
With so many adaptations, City made a welcome start when Gillion showed a keen turn of pace to leave the Takapuna AFC defence in his wake before slotting home a brilliantly executed left foot shot after just eight minutes.
The Navy Blues looked comfortable but that was turned upside down when referee Ashley Wilson sent off Angus Kilkolly for violent conduct on 39 minutes.
That threw Takapuna AFC a lifeline and when Connor O'Malley raced clear he looked odds on to equalise only to steer a thunderous shot off Brown's right hand post on the hour mark.
City made the hosts pay dearly for that lack of cutting edge when Gillion headed home a second just two minutes later after some poor defending from a Tade corner.
VIDEO - Liam Gillion makes it 2-0
The two goal buffer gave Riera the luxury of sending in Dylan Manickum, Iwata, De Vries and Matt Ellis and it paid immediate dividends.
De Vries' first touches of the ball led to a close range volley by Manickum to make it 3-0 and matters got worse for the hosts when Nick Smith was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Manickum then helped himself to a brace when Tade played a neat pass into his path that allowed him to finish calmly past Anderson for the fourth.
VIDEO - Dylan Manickum finishes Ryan De Vries cross
69’ | 0-3— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) June 11, 2022
De Vries is on the pitch mere seconds and tees up Dylan Manickum who lashes gone an unstoppable volley to make it 3-0 - here’s the balcony view of the goal. #StrengthInUnity #TKvAC pic.twitter.com/agTEmjPCva
Riera was a very satisfied coach after the setback of a first half red card.
"I thought the players did very well after the setbacks that we had - losing players to Covid-19. The players who came in really did a good job for us.
"We have a game on Tuesday with Albany United in the Chatham Cup, so I wasn't very happy with the red card we got, for what reason I don't know - I'm going to have to watch it back.
"We wanted to have fresh legs with Tuesday in mind but the way the players stuck together I thought was very good.
"I'm extremely happy with Liam who got among the goals today. I think Liam is a fantastic young player who is very talented and I'm always telling him he has to believe in himself more.
"The goals he scored were top class and I hope he takes that as part of his learning experience.
"I thought Aidan Carey did very well at the back, it was good to see Takuya do well - all of the players did well.
"We have a lot of games ahead of us and its pleasing to see the players do well," he said.
VIDEO - Auckland City FC make it 4-0
Elsewhere, Birkenhead United held onto second place after they went on a 6-0 rampage against hapless North Shore United while Melville United stayed within touching distance after a similarly ruthless display in a 5-0 victory over Bay Olympic.
Auckland United FC disposed of Manukau United, 4-1, while there was some joy for struggling Waiheke United after they held Western Springs to a 1-1 draw at Onetangi Domain.
Hamilton Wanderers playoff hopes are still alive after they picked up a welcome 2-0 win over Eastern Suburbs AFC.
Saturday 11 June 2022
Takapuna AFC 0
Auckland City FC 4 (Liam GILLION 8', 59', Dylan MANICKUM 68', 74')
Red Card - Angus KILKOLLY, 39' (Violent Conduct)
Red Card - Nick SMITH (TK) 39'/70' (Lack of Respect for the Game/Unsporting Behaviour)
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 4. Christian GRAY (6. Matt ELLIS 68'), 8. Gerard GARRIGA, 9. Angus KILKOLLY,14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 17. Reid DRAKE (22. Takuya IWATA 63'), 19. Liam GILLION (11. Ryan DE VRIES 68'), 20. Emiliano TADE (c), 21. Ilham HAMEEDI (10. Dylan MANICKUM 56').
SUBS NOT USED: 18. Danyon DRAKE (GK).
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
Birkenhead United 6-0 North Shore United
Bay Olympic 0-5 Melville United
Waiheke United 1-1 Western Springs
Hamilton Wanderers 2-0 Eastern Suburbs
Takapuna AFC 0-4 Auckland City FC
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium