Words: Nick Brown
Sunday 23 September 2018
Picture: Marc Peretic Wilson
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC began pre-season with a scrappy 4-2 come from behind win over Hamilton Wanderers at Auckland Grammar on Saturday.
Featuring a host of new personnel it was an early opportunity for coach Ramon Tribulietx to run his eye over his team and ensure his squad got minutes into the leg ahead of the new campaign.
The Navy Blues took the lead after just seven minutes when Papua New Guinea international David Browne was awarded a free kick after he was brought down just outside the box and Fabrizio Tavano fired past goalkeeper Matt Oliver with a cracking free kick.
The lead didn’t last long however as Wanderers’ own Papua New Guinean international Tommy Semmy went on a storming run and slotted home past Navy Blues custodian Ruben Parker after 10 minutes.
The Navy Blues had the opportunity to retake the lead in the 21st minute when Browne was awarded a penalty by referee Anna-Marie Keighley. Unfortunately for Browne Oliver pulled off a textbook save to keep the score level.
The visitors took a shock lead in the 42nd minute when a cross flashed in off the post giving Wanderers a handy 2-1 lead they held onto until the second of three half-hour periods of play.
Both teams made wholesale changes at various stages with the Navy Blues new arrivals Brian Kaltack, Dylan Manickum and Hayden McHenery enjoying game time alongside Reid Drake, Alfie Rogers and goalkeeper Cameron Brown.
Auckland City FC dominated proceedings but Wanderers defence held firm.
The third period got underway with trialists Yousif Al-Kalisy and Maro Bonsu-Maro seeing their first piece of action of the night. The moment was poignant for Al-Kalisy who saw his first spell with the Navy Blues curtailed by an ankle injury picked up against Waitakere United in a pre-season friendly nearly two years ago.
Wanderers resolution finally broke when the Navy Blues drew level in the 73rd minute when Solomon Islands forward Micah Lea'alafa assumed the spot kick duties and slotted home beyond Oliver.
The visitors were dealt another blow four minutes when Dylan Manickum scored a brilliant goal from long range to make it 3-2.
In an odd night for Wanderers goalkeeper Matt Oliver the scoring ended with yet another spot-kick this time taken by Tavano whose goal made sure of a 4-2 win.
Navy Blues head coach Ramon Tribulietx was happy to see some positive play from his charges.
“It’s the first game and I’ve seen a lot of good things we had a lot of ball as always it was good to see the new players understand the way we want to play they started understanding the philosophies, the ideas and where to move the passing angles aspects which are important to us.”
The Navy Blues are next in action on Sunday 30 September, 2018 when they meet Canterbury United at Auckland Grammar. Kick off is at 11:30am.
In earlier action a brace to Justin Bailey and a late winner to Kieran Richards all within the last 5 minutes of the match saw the Junior Navy Blues defeat Hamilton Wanderers Youth in a pre season friendly ahead of this summer's National Youth League.
Saturday 22 September 2018
Auckland City FC 4 (Fabrizio Tavano 7', 89'-pen, Micah Lea'alafa 73'-pen, Dylan Manickum 77')
Hamilton Wanderers 2 (Tommy Semmy 10', A Goal 42')
*Matt Oliver saved a David Browne penalty after 21 minutes
Pre-season Friendly (Youth Team)
Saturday 22 September 2018
Auckland City FC 3
Hamilton Wanderers 2
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium