Words: ACFC Media
Thursday 14 July 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC skipper Cam Howieson praised his team's resilience and the performance of youngster Joe Lee as the Navy Blues took a big step towards retaining their Northern League title after a 5-3 away win over Birkenhead United last night.
Captain Cam Howieson, who had a brilliant game, was pleased with the performance but lamented City's failure to seal the game at 4-1.
"It was a good game and it was a good performance but we know they're a team that are all about counter attacks and they'll run all day and make life difficult for us and other teams in the league.
"But when we got to (the possibility of making it) 5-1, we have to shut the game out and stop the counters.
"But they got back into the game and fair play to them for that.
"They made life difficult for us in that last 15-20 minutes but that was good for us because we stuck it out.
"We've got a lot of games coming up and these performances are key - its good for us and also good for the league.
"Adam (Mitchell) and Mario (Ilich) aren't always on the score sheet but their keeper took a bit of a hit in the first half when Angus went off injured and I knew they didn't have a keeper on the bench so would keep him on.
"I just made sure I kept my delivery on the keeper to make his life difficult and the lads finished their chances superbly.
"Joe Lee has been wonderful for us and he's a great talent.
"You can see on nights like this when he's confident then we just want to keep feeding him the ball to beat his man.
"When teams go man for man on the field we always need creativity and Joe had a superb game and hopefully there's more to come from him," Howieson said.
The result leaves Auckland City FC 15 points clear of second place and 24 points clear of fifth which means their place in the National League Championship is secured.
Birkenhead United's hopes of catching City are faint but requires Hobson's team to win all six of their remaining games and hope the Navy Blues drop points in at least two of their remaining five games.
City now face a run of three consecutive home games against North Shore United (Saturday 16 July), Manukau United (Tuesday 19 July) and Bay Olympic (Saturday 23 July) before travelling to Dunedin to take on Dunedin City Royals, most likely on Sunday 31 July, in the Chatham Cup Quarter Finals.
Beyond that looms the OFC Champions League next month with three group games set for Auckland with Hienghene Sport (Friday 5 August), Rewa (Monday 8 August) and Nikao Sokattak (Thursday 11 August).
Saturday's game with North Shore United holds special resonance for Auckland City FC with the game marking the club's 500th match since the club began in 2004.
In another coincidence, if Emiliano Tade plays, he will become just the third player in club history to make 200 appearances for Auckland City FC.
The only other two players to reach 200+ games are Angel Berlanga (224/9 goals) and James Pritchett (203/5 goals).
The game is at Kiwitea Street at 3.00pm NZDT.
Wednesday 13 July 2022
Birkenhead United 3 (Sam BURFOOT 30', Luke JORGENSEN 63', Luke ALLPORT 77')
Auckland City FC 5 (Ryan DE VRIES 18', Angus KILKOLLY 22', Adam MITCHELL 51', Mario ILICH 55', Joe LEE 81')
AC: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), Mario ILICH, 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 9. Angus KILKOLLY (20. Emiliano TADE 29'), 11. Ryan DE VRIES, 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 13. Nathan LOBO, 16. Joe LEE (8. Gerard GARRIGA 82'), 17. Reid DRAKE, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 4. Christian GRAY, 6. Matt ELLIS.
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
TRAINER: Alejo LEGUIZAMON
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
REFEREE: Nick WALDRON
ASSISTANT REFEREE 1: Charlie TSENG
ASSISTANT REFEREE 2: Reza AL RABEA
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium