Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 1 October 2017
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Canterbury United have beaten Auckland City FC 3-1 in a pre-season friendly at Auckland Grammar today.
The Navy Blues rested eight players from yesterday's 2-2 away draw with the Wellington Phoenix with Reid Drake, his brother Danyon, Harry Edge, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, Marko Dordevic, Ryan De Vries, Dalton Wilkins, Liam Graham and Dan Morgan all starting.
Harshae Raniga, looking to win another summer campaign with the club, was brought in alongside youth team players Antonio Bonkovich and Dino Botica.
Canterbury took control of the match early on courtesy of two goals inside the first 15 minutes by Cory Mitchell and Juan Chang. Tom Schwarz headed home Canterbury's third from close range on the hour mark to send the Dragons their first victory of any kind over the Navy Blues for four years.
The match got off to the worst possible start for Ramon Tribulietx's team when Mitchell scored after less than a minute following a defensive error.
The home side by contrast struggled to create a clearcut scoring opportunity in the first half although did manage to test the Dragons defensive block reaching several promising positions without penetrating meaningfully.
That resistance was finally broken when Dan Morgan slammed home a firm shot at close range with 17 minutes to play. Shortly after Auckland City FC received a lifeline when referee Cory Mills awarded the home a penalty but former Tasman United stopper Coey Turipa saved Reid Drake's spot kick.
Assistant coach Ivan Vicelich said the important aspect of the match was to give as many players as possible game time.
"That was a very tough match Canterbury played a very strong game and defensively they were very good.
"We struggled at times and made costly individual errors but this was a good exercise for us to get another 90 minutes into their legs so we're happy from that point of view.
"We saw some good stuff today and it makes selection for the first ISPS Handa Premiership game very tough which is good for us. We have good quality in this squad and it puts players under pressure to perform to their best," Vicelich said.
Bonkovich and Botica each saw pitch time with Dalton Wilkins, Callum McCowatt and Owen Parker-Price also having an impact.
"Its great to have the youngsters involved again today and important they're involved.
"Players like Antonio Bonkovich and Dino Botica came in and see how we do things, experience our methods and style of play.
"The more games we have together the more we'll be in synch for what lies ahead," he added.
The Navy Blues next and final pre-season hit-out is with Super City rivals Waitakere United scheduled for Saturday 7 October 2017.
The finalised match details will be published on www.aucklandcityfc.com next week.
Sunday 1 October 2017
Auckland City FC 1 (Dan Morgan 73')
Canterbury United 2 (Cory Mitchell 1', Juan Chang 15', Tom Schwarz 57')
Coey Turipa (CAN) penalty save from Reid Drake (AUC) 78'
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium