Words: ACFC Media
Wednesday 24 January 2018
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC are back on top of the ISPS Handa Premiership after a 2-0 Gridlock derby win over Eastern Suburbs AFC at William Green Domain tonight.
With their season poised delicately there was little room for error for the Navy Blues and with the pressure on they duly delivered a precious win.
Emiliano Tade's return to the Navy Blues starting line-up showed only marginal signs of rustiness with the normally dependable goal-getter missing a gimme from close range.
That wastefulness proved only temporary however with Tade smashing home a wonderful free-kick beyond Louis Caunter on 20 minutes in a repeat of his effort against Canterbury United in Christchurch on Sunday.
Great win— Graham Roberts (@GrahamRoberts4) January 24, 2018
Eastern Suburbs AFC enjoyed a period of sustained pressure just after the restart but just when they appeared to be getting on top of the Navy Blues subsitute Micah Lea'alafa broke clear to net the second and kill the game off.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx was a very happy man after watching his side notch back-to-back wins over two sides in the top four.
"It was a game of two halves and very hard on both teams and it was a big effort playing on Sunday and with a short turnaround. Our boys were a bit tired second half and our performance was a bit disjointed.
"The battle was very good and we created good chances to score - one in each half - but thats football, but overall a great effort from us.
"It was a more defensive display in the second half and we were very competitive and I'm very happy with that," he said.
Tribulietx complimented Tade on yet another fine finish from a free-kick and Lea'alafa's finish on the counter.
"Their keeper was positioned a little bit centrally and Tade is very smart in those situations and he's done that before. It was a very good goal.
"For the second we've had the counter attack and they were going for the equaliser and committed a lot of players forward but on the counter we knew we could hurt them.Micah is a great asset for us and he's done well for us," he said.
"We have a lot of tired players but we have an extra day to recover and we have a very good squad of players.
"These two games were going to be very tough and now the Wanderers game some have played two lots of 90 minutes.
"We'll make sure we've got a competitive team out there next Sunday," he said.
The victory lifted Auckland City FC into top spot with a narrow one points lead over defending champions Team Wellington and vanquished rivals Eastern Suburbs AFC with six rounds left to play.
The win handed their third derby victory over Eastern Suburbs AFC since they rejoined the the New Zealand domestic top flight last season.
Auckland City FC face their third game in a week when they meet Hamilton Wanderers at Links Avenue in Tauranga in front of the Sky Sport cameras next Sunday.
The match kicks off at 4.35pm.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Wednesday 24 January 2018
Eastern Suburbs AFC
Auckland City FC 2 (Emiliano Tade 20', Micah Lea'alafa 71')
AC: Zubikarai (GK), Iwata, Bilen, Berlanga, Hudson-Wihongi, Howieson, Riera, White, Tavano, Tade, McCowatt.
SUBS: Tracey (GK), R Drake, H Edge, Rogers, Lea'alafa
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx
Sun 24 Mar, 2019, kick-off 235pm NZST