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U-23: Latest win gives City title life line

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 13 August 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC U-23 tit-for-tat title race with Birkenhead United U-23 saw yet another plot twist after City downed Manukau United U-23 by 3-0 at Croatian Cultural Society today.

First half goals for Will Eng and Finn McCracken and one in the second half from Max Sutton handed City a championship life line after Birkenhead United U-23 slipped up 4-3 to Takapuna U-23 in the North Harbour derby at Taharoto Park.

Nick Petherick bagged a hat-trick for Birkenhead United U-23 to give his team a 3-2 lead after they twice trailed only for two goals in the last 15 minutes to Mark Richards and Saiga Otsubo to hand Takapuna U-23 a shock win.

That result means Birkenhead United U-23 and Auckland City FC U-23 are tied on 42 points each but City have a game in hand.

Adding spice to the title race was Auckland United U-23s 5-1 pulverisation of Melville United U-23, a result that sees United enter the reckoning on 40 points.

Like Birkenhead United U-23, Auckland United U-23 have played one more game than City.

Today's victory for Auckland City FC U-23 was a special one with Kris Bright fielding a young side shorn of the injured Legion Rogerson and the ill Marcel Stoddard.

Bright was proud of his team who in recent weeks have shown the form that saw them lead the league.

"This was a very controlled performance by a very young side.

"We had to do some defending against an experienced Manukau United U-23 team but when we did have the ball we knew how to hurt them which was pleasing.

"I was very pleased with the players showed a good work ethic and it was fantastic to give minutes to players coming through.

"Players who have sat on the fringes of the U-23 set-up like Woodie Wilson, Ethan Foo and Jeremy Foo stepped up and performed admirably in a tough game.

"The Foo brothers, in particular, are each 14 and 16 years of age and travel from Takanini two to three times a week for training.

"They set a great example to everyone with their commitment and I was pleased with their contribution.

"When teams at Auckland City FC lose games we always look for a reaction from the players and got that today," he said.

Other performances to catch the eye were goalkeeper Finn Dockerty whose good form continued while Eng, who recently made his Auckland City FC senior debut in the OFC Champions League, also got 60 minutes of action.

Ends

Match Result
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 13 August 2022
Auckland City FC U-23 3 (Will ENG 8', Finn McCRACKEN 35', Max SUTTON 59')
Manukau United U-23 0
HT: 2-0.

AC: 1. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 2. Jesse GAGE (c), 3. Riley SEXTON, 8. Anthony DUNCAN, 9. Will ENG (14. Woodie WILSON 65'), 10. Finn McCRACKEN, 11. Max SUTTON (15. Jeremy FOO 69'), 16. Rayan TAYEB, 19. Stipe UKICH (12. Luke ROBB 65'), 20. Ethan FOO, 22. Adam BELL.

COACH: Kris BRIGHT.
ASSISTANT COACH: Paul DRAKE.

VIEW LEAGUE TABLE HERE. 

LOTTO NRFL U-23 PREMIER DIVISION - TITLE RUN IN

BIRKENHEAD UNITED U-23
20 August 2022 v Hamilton Wanderers U-23 (H) (11.30am NZDT)
27 August 2022 v Waiheke United U-23 (A) (12.30pm NZDT)
03 September 2022 v Manukau United U-23 (H) (12.30pm NZDT)

AUCKLAND CITY FC U-23
20 August 2022 v Western Springs U-23 (A) (5.30pm NZDT)
27 August 2022 v Eastern Suburbs U-23 (H) (12.30pm NZDT)
03 September 2022 v Auckland United U-23 (A) (12.30pm NZDT)

AUCKLAND UNITED U-23
20 August 2022 v North Shore United U-23 (A) (12.30pm NZDT)
27 August 2022 v Bay Olympic U-23 (H) (12.00pm NZDT)
03 September 2022 v Auckland City FC (H) (12.30pm NZDT)

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