Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 9 July 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC advanced to the quarter finals of the Chatham Cup after a come from behind 2-1 win over Bay Olympic today.
The home side came into the match off the back of three consecutive defeats in the Northern League but delivered a disciplined performance that pushed City all the way in a tight, tense affair.
Liam Mulrooney's side adopted a low block designed to hit the visitors on the break and when Jack Duncan finished a sweeping move with a well-timed goal on the half hour mark things looked promising for Bay.
City dominated the ball, particularly down their left, with Nathan Lobo tormenting his opposite number and whipping in inviting crosses.
The Navy Blues missed a couple of gilt edged chances and went in at the break 1-0 down.
VIDEO - Reid Drake equalises for Auckland City FC
Coach Albert Riera would've desired an early second half goal to settle any nerves and disrupt Bay Olympic's well-earned confidence and that's exactly what he got.
Reid Drake provided the relief when he raced through and neatly lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Luca Taylor on the hour mark to give City a foothold in the game.
With the scores level, space opened up in midfield and out wide, space City were eager to exploit but the winning goal would come from a set piece when Mario Ilich rose highest at the back post to score his second goal of the season.
Bay Olympic refused to cave in and won a spate of corners which caused City angst but lacked precision in the final touch.
Riera was relieved to see his team prevail and his post-match remarks are now taking on a familiar feel as opponents adopt a similar approach when taking on his side.
"I tried to be calm but as time went by our boys got through. We knew it was going to be a battle because although they've dropped points in the league, the Chatham Cup gives teams an extra element.
"Bay Olympic showed that today and we had to fight very hard and we did that.
"We probably didn't play our best game but sometimes you just need to win and today we did.
"In our first game with Bay Olympic they didn't sit as deep as they did today and you could see their plan was about the counter.
"They did that very well, you have to be very patient when players are waiting to receive the ball in the pockets and today I felt at some points we lacked patience which made it easier for them.
"Olympic exploited us in that way and that's how they scored their goal.
"We have very strong and tall players in our team which means we can handle defending a lot of corners like we did today and it also means we're scoring a lot of goals from set plays like Mario's goal which is very pleasing," he said.
VIDEO - Mario Ilich seals victory
For Ilich, the sight of seeing the ball hit the back of the net for just the third time in his career with the club, was satisfying.
"I thought it was a game of two halves the first half we started well but we found it hard to break them down.
"They set up really deep and they had one counter attack and they scored.
"In the second half we knew what we had to do and came out and stuck to the game plan and it was key we scored an early goal in the second half and then I grabbed the winner.
"I'm normally a one goal a season man so I'm happy to make it two for this season especially in a big Chatham Cup game - I'm absolutely buzzing," he said.
VIDEO - Alfie Rogers goes close
In other Chatham Cup results from around the country there were a couple of upsets with Waiheke United defeating Melville United, 2-1, at Gower Park, while Auckland United were bundled out in a penalty shoot out defeat to Hamilton Wanderers after a tense 0-0 draw at Keith Hay Park.
In Christchurch, Cashmere Technical obliterated Green Island 9-0, Dunedin City Royals beat Nelson Suburbs 3-1 and Miramar Rangers were too slick for Western Suburbs in a 5-1 romp.
There are two other games to be played with Birkenhead United's tie with Eastern Suburbs postponed due to Covid-19 and at Park Island, Napier City Rovers play host to in-form Wellington Olympic.
Chatham Cup Round 4
Saturday 9 July 2022
Bay Olympic 1 (Jack DUNCAN 32')
Auckland City FC 2 (Reid DRAKE 57', Mario ILICH 71')
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (8. Gerard GARRIGA 86'), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 9. Angus KILKOLLY (20. Emiliano TADE 77'), 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Nathan LOBO, 16. Joe LEE (19. Liam GILLION 90'+2'), 17. Reid DRAKE, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 4. Christian GRAY, 24. Cam BROWN (GK).
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
REFEREE: Luke GARDNER
ASSISTANT REFEREE 1: Reza AL RABEA
ASSISTANT REFEREE 2: Charlie TSENG
CHATHAM CUP - ROUND 4 RESULTS
Cashmere Technical 9-0 Green Island
Dunedin City Royals 3-1 Nelson Suburbs
Melville United 1-2 Waiheke United
Auckland United 0-0* Hamilton Wanderers
Bay Olympic 1-2 Auckland City FC
Miramar Rangers 5-1 Western Suburbs
Birkenhead United P-P Eastern Suburbs
Napier City Rovers v Wellington Olympic - to be played Sunday 10 July 2022
*Hamilton Wanderers won 3-2 on penalties
Tu 12 Dec 2023, Al Ittihad, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, KO: 9.00pm local