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U-23: Ellis, Hameedi and Eng shine

Words: Nick Brown

Saturday 20 August 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Goals by two players with first team experience helped guide Auckland City FC U-23 to a narrow 2-1 win over Western Springs U-23s at Seddon Field on Saturday.

City started the game three points clear of nearest rivals Birkenhead United U-23 and went ahead thanks to a good finish by Will Eng.

Western Springs equalised via a stunning long range strike by Jacob Zussman ten minutes after half time but Ilham Hameedi was on hand on the hour to restore what turned out to be a definitive advantage.

Coach Kris Bright was very happy with the performance.

"First half we were unbelievable. We played some great football and we created a lot of chances and I was very, very pleased with what I saw.

"The way we kept the ball was fine and individual performances were pleasing but we got complacent and that meant it became a close game.

"Overall, I was very happy with the performance and result," he said.

Will Eng, Adam Bell, Ilham Hameedi and Matt Ellis have all appeared for the first team this season in one of Northern League, Chatham Cup or OFC Champions League campaigns, and Ellis was again great to watch.

"I've worked with Matt Ellis for five years now and he's one of the best young players in the country.

"He applied himself to playing 90 minutes for the U-23s tonight impeccably, which just shows you how good he is mentally as well.

"The second goal we scored by Ilham Hameedi was one of the best goals I've seen scored since I came back from overseas," he said.

Next week, City U-23s face Eastern Suburbs U-23s and another win will bring a successful title defence closer.

"It's another good chance for these players to win the league. The players have been talking about it, they know perhaps another three or four points could be enough to clinch the title.

"At Auckland City FC there's always an extra edge to win things which is also a good part of developing stronger athletes.

"Having Matt, Ilham, and Adam back with us makes me very proud to see the way they're developing at the club," Bright said.

Elsewhere, Auckland United U-23 picked up three valuable points to stay within touching distance of the title race, beating North Shore United U-23 by 3-1 at Allen Hill Stadium. United are four points off top spot with two games to go.

Birkenhead United U-23 walloped Hamilton Wanderers U-23s 4-0 to remain three points away from City.

Melville United U-23 are guaranteed a top four finish after they speared Eastern Suburbs U-23s 4-2 at Madills Farm.

Bay Olympic U-23 leapfrogged Manukau United U-23 on the table after they thrashed Waiheke United U-23 by 7-0. Manukau United U-23s loss of form in recent weeks was summed up by their 8-2 hammering at the hands of Takapuna U-23.


Match Result
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 20 August 2022
Western Springs U-23 1 (Jacob ZUSSMAN 55')
Auckland City FC U-23 2 (Will ENG 43', Ilham HAMEEDI 63')
HT: 0-1.

AC: 1. Finn DOCKERTY (GK), 2. Jesse GAGE (c), 3. Riley SEXTON, 7. Matt ELLIS, 8. Anthony DUNCAN (13. Oscar DUFFY 70'), 9. Will ENG, 10. Finn McCRACKEN (14. Woodie WILSON 90'), 11. Max SUTTON (5. Marcel STODDARD 60'), 16. Rayan TAYEB, 21. Ilham HAMEEDI, 22. Adam BELL.



Eastern Suburbs 2-4 Melville United
Manukau United 2-8 Takapuna
Bay Olympic 7-0 Waiheke United
Birkenhead United 4-0 Hamilton Wanderers
North Shore United 1-3 Auckland United
Western Springs 1-2 Auckland City FC


AUCKLAND CITY FC U-23 - PLAYED: 20 W: 15 D: 3 L: 2 GF: 56 GA: 20 PTS: 48 GD: 36
27 August 2022 v Eastern Suburbs U-23 (H) (12.30pm NZDT)
03 September 2022 v Auckland United U-23 (A) (12.30pm NZDT)

BIRKENHEAD UNITED U-23 - PLAYED: 20 W: 14 D: 3 L: 3 GF: 65 GA: 24 PTS: 45 GD: +41
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 UNITED U-23 - PLAYED: 20 W: 14 D: 2 L: 4 GF: 64 GA: 21 PTS: 44 GD: 43
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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