Nash goal sinks Navy Blues

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 16 October 2016

Picture: Phototek NZ

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Waitakere United have beaten Auckland City FC in the opening match of the Stirling Sports Premiership after a tense clash at Kiwitea Street today.

The victory for the Chris Milicich-coached side is Waitakere United's first win in the Super City derby clash for two years, eight months and 14 days, and is a blow for the Navy Blues as they seek to recapture the domestic title they lost to Team Wellington last season.

The visitors got off to the perfect start when Harrison Nash blasted home a close range header from a perfectly executed corner kick routine after just four minutes.

From there Auckland City FC dominated possession but a string of outstanding saves by new Waitakere United goalkeeper Pirmin Strasser denied the Oceania champions a goal they desperately craved.

Strasser, signed from Austrian football, turned in a brilliant display that included a stunning second half save from a Joao Moreira header that the gloveman tipped onto the underside of the crossbar.

He was in action again to deny Ryan De Vries in a one on one challenge, blocked substitute Nikolai Berry's close range shot with minutes to go in a remarkable debut.

Waitakere United showed they are back to their best after several seasons in the wilderness showing great character as the hosts dominated possession but failed to breakdown their arch-rivals.

While the visitors spent much of the game in their own half they had a handful of their own chances on the counter attack with Dylan Stansfield a key figure.

Auckland City FC's debutant goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai made key saves from Stansfield including a top quality save at his near post 10 minutes into the second half.

Also outstanding was another Waitakere United signing wide midfielder Stefan Thelen, who was ably supported by the veteran Jake Butler and Dan Morgan, though in truth there were plenty of others in red shirts to choose from.

Ryan De Vries, Joao Moreira and Emiliano Tade - Auckland City FC's front three - will be left wondering how they were unable to breach Waitakere United who they ran ragged at times but who stood firm under a barrage of attacks.

Auckland City FC skipper Darren White was despondent after the final whistle and lamented the raft of missed opportunities his team suffered.

"Its always a stinker when you lose a derby especially against Waitakere. The ball just wouldn't cross the line for us at the end of the day.

"We had most of the possession and created a ton of chances but we just couldn't finish. But fair play to Waitakere they scored their goal early because we hadn't switched on. After that they parked a great bus, to be fair.

"I hope this is a wake-up call for us because anyone can beat anyone in this league on the day and as you can see here Waitakere got an early goal and employed a strategy that's worked for them.

"We battled and battled to comeback but the ball just wouldn't go in for us," White said.

Waitakere United coach Chris Milicich was understandably delighted with the result and backed up the view that his team could be one to watch this season.

"It feels good to win here today. We've been preparing quite well but we were quite rusty in a few aspects of the game but in reality we had the better chances in the game apart from towards the end.

"We played our game, they played theirs, and our aim was to counter attack. We let them play then our counter attack went really well.

"This feels like my team and when we went to recruit players one of the key things was to find the character of the player. They dig deep, they work hard and they want to win.

"There is a big difference in this group that they turn up and want to compete, train hard and do things the right way. They've bonded very quickly and we've put in a performance like that when we've only been together for three weeks," he said.

The match also marked a minute's silence for Mount Albert Ponsonby stalwart Brian "Stan" Stanyer who passed away aged 61 during the week.

Mount Albert Ponsonby supporters turned up in big numbers to wintess the observation for their fallen former first team player, coach and committee member in what was a poignant occasion.

Next week the Navy Blues are at home to reigning champions Team Wellington in a clash that has all the hallmarks of a potential classic.

Ends

Match Result
Stirling Sports Premiership
Sunday 16 October 2016
Auckland City FC 0
Waitakere United 1 (Harrison Nash 4')
Halftime: 0-0

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