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Second-half blitz sees off strong Wee Nix challenge

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 19 November 2017

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Three goals in as many minutes in a ruthless second-half spell helped the Navy Blues see off a stern challenge from Wellington Phoenix Reserves in the ISPS Handa Premiership at Kiwitea Street on Sunday.

Having edged a relatively even first half 1-0 thanks to Emiliano Tade’s coolly-executed 39th minute strike from a Darren White cross, Auckland City pulled away with a devastating blitz midway through the second half.

Daewook Kim’s well-timed run saw him shake his marker and meet a 65th minute Tade corner with firm header and the dust had barely settled when the visitors gave the ball away in front of their own area and Fabrizio Tavano was put through to make it 3-0.

Tade then compounded the misery for the Wee Nix somehow sneaking a shot under rthe body of Lewis Italiano for City’s fourth of the day and the Argentinean’s eight ISPS Handa Premiership goal in the last five games.

With the Wellington Phoenix’s A-League trip to Western Sydney Wanderers called off this weekend, the Reserve side called upon Hamish Watson, Adam Parkhouse and Italiano to bolster squad already featuring young professional Logan Rogerson, Sarpreet Singh and James McGarry.

The visitors made life difficult for the Navy Blues with an effective press restricting time and space while at the same time keeping the home side’s defence honest – Sarpreet Singh’s long-range effort in the 17th minute forcing a sharp save from Enaut Zubikarai.

Zubikarai needed a strong glove on two occasions to punch clear under the pressure of the burly Watson and produced another sharp low save to deny a worm-burner from McGarry late in the second half.

White, captaining the side in the absence of Angel Berlanga who was rested with a slight knock, blazed a late chance over the bar while substitute Reid Drake almost made immediate impact but couldn’t his attempted chip over Italiano wouldn’t drop in time.

Navy Blues coach Ramon Tribulietx acknowledged the result wasn’t necessarily reflective of the contest.

“It was a lot tougher,” said Tribulietx, “we created two or three very clear chances in the first half but it was pretty even in the first half hour of the game.” 

“They were pressing very high, we were playing into the wind on a small pitch so I think that put a little bit extra pressure on our football. But we kept trying and full credit to our players for playing against a very talented side with some players who play regularly in the A-League. I thought it was a very good performance – it was a 4-0 result but when you look at the game – it was a lot tighter so full credit to them for making it difficult.”

Tribulietx said Kim’s goal was the turning point.

“With the wind with us it was easier to mix playing through them and playing beyond them. They were giving us an opportunity. They were sending a lot of men forward to go almost one on one in our half and pressing us very intensely. That was the difference in the second half so once we got that second goal, they dropped a little bit – that’s understandable – and we were a little but lucky to score straight after and kill the game.”

Next week, the Navy Blues face Hawke’s Bay United at Kiwitea Street with kick-off at 2pm on Saturday.

Match Result
Sunday 19 November 2017
ISPS Handa Premiership
Auckland City FC 4 (Emiliano Tade 39’, 68’; Daewook Kim 65’, Frabrizio Tavano 66’)
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 0
HT: 1-0

AC: Zubikarai (GK); Iwata, Howieson, Riera (Edge 78’), White (c), De Vries, Tavano, Kim, Tade (R. Drake 80’), Dordevic, McCowatt (Hudson-Wihongi 72’).

Subs not used: D. Drake (RGK), Rogers.

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