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United prevail in Dominion Road derby

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 3 September 2022

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's 31-game unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt after a 2-0 loss to Auckland United in the Dominion Road derby today.

A goal in a each half by Oliver Fay and Regont Murati was enough to give Jose Figueira's side a deserved two goal victory in the last game of the Northern League season at a packed Keith Hay Park.

Missing from Albert Riera's line-up today were Dylan Manickum, Ryan De Vries, Mario Ilich, Adam Mitchell, Gerard Garriga, Angus Kilkolly and Emiliano Tade, although Kilkolly, missing with a knee injury since July, made a late cameo as a substitute.

With so many players absent, Riera shuffled his pack with Reid Drake deployed as a striker and youngster Adam Bell made his his third appearance for the first team at right back. Jordan Vale, normally dispatched to full back, played centre midfield while Cam Howieson made a return to the line-up after suspension.

VIDEO - Oliver Fay makes it 1-0

With so many changes, and changes to deployment, Figueira's United took full advantage, especially in the first half where City seemed unable to crack into gear.

They held out after Conor Tracey made a couple of important saves but Fay snuck a well-timed deflected goal on 41 minutes that left Tracey grasping to make it 1-0.

Whatever Riera said and did at half time had an immediate effect and City's performance in the second half went up several notches but they were unable to find a breakthrough.

Sam Brotherton, making his 50th appearance, squandered the best chance of the game when he steered a close range header well wide of Mack Waite's goal with nobody but the keeper to beat.

Substitute Liam Gillion also made a positive impression putting former Navy Blue Harshae Raniga under the microscope with a couple of darting runs.

Despite that improvement it was United who scored the next and most crucial goal when a corner went to back post and was recirculated into the middle of the six yard box which allowed Murati to lash an unstoppable volley past Tracey.

While the defeat means City's shot at Eastern Suburbs 1965 Northern League unbeaten record and Metro FC's 1996 Superclub unbeaten record goes up in smoke the club can make up for that if they can win next week's Chatham Cup final with Eastern Suburbs at North Harbour Stadium.

VIDEO - Regont Murati makes it 2-0

Only five clubs have won the Northern League top tier and Chatham Cup double in the past with Eastern Suburbs achieving that feat twice in 1965 and 2015. Manurewa (1978), Central United (2007) and Onehunga Sports (2017).

Riera was philosophical and realistic in defeat.

"If you see how the players are in the dressing room then you'll understand this is a group that isn't used to losing.

"Sooner or later in football you're going lose games, or in this case, a game and its our last game of the season.

"When you lose the last game of the league season and it comes right before a Chatham Cup final then in many ways that's the best time ever to lose.

"It gives everyone a reminder of what can happen. I thought we gave away the first half. I thought the second half we were better.

VIDEO - Sam Brotherton 50 appearances

"But against a team like Auckland United that is a good team and very well organised then if you give away the first 45 minutes you pay the price and that was the case today.

"It was good to see Angus Kilkolly come back into action. He's always keen to train and play. He's had a fantastic recovery from his injury but I still think he has more to do.

"But we needed him today and he always puts his hands up which is just the kind of person he is. He loves being on the pitch with his team-mates and hopefully we can see more of him on the pitch.

"It's going to be a very exciting week. We'll have a full week to plan for the Chatham Cup final which is actually quite unusual for us given how many games we've had this season.

"We'll have time to recover, time to watch footage of Eastern Suburbs and be fully prepared for what is a massive game for everyone at Kiwitea Street," he said.

While City's 31-game unbeaten run in all competitions is over, Riera can look across his start to life as City head coach with pride.

He smashed all previous records for an Auckland City FC coach in terms of unbeaten start to a tenure with 31 games better than the previous record of 14.

Ends

Match Details
Northern League
Saturday 3 September 2022
Auckland United 2 (Oliver FAY 44', Regont MURATI 78')
Auckland City FC 0
HT: 1-0.

AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 4. Christian GRAY, 6. Matt ELLIS, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Aidan CAREY, 16. Joe LEE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 22. Adam BELL, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK), 20. Emiliano TADE.

COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GOALKEEPER COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
MANAGER: Keith COTON
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
TECHNICAL: Jarrod WALLACE
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE

MATCH OFFICIALS
REFEREE: Luke GARDNER
AR1: Mark RULE
AR2: Shawn LIU

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

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