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Navy Blues seal come-from-behind win

Words: ACFC Media

Saturday 6 October 2018

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC notched a come-from-behind 2-1 pre-season victory over Eastern Suburbs AFC at Madills Farm today.

Andre de Jong opened the scoring from the penalty mark in the 12th minute after Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongo was ajudged to have fouled de Jong just inside the Navy Blues penalty box.

De Jong's cleverly clipped penalty gave Ruben Parker no chance and he was in the thick of the action again minutes later when he sent a shot fizzing past the Navy Blues upright shortly after.

David Browne then rattled Eastern Suburbs' crossbar with a bending left foot shot from long range before the Navy Blues were awarded a penalty of their own midway through the first half.

Spanish striker Javier Lopez sent goalkeeper Andrew Withers the wrong way with an excellent penalty kick and the visitors went in front courtesy of a brilliant goal by Micah Lea'alafa just before halftime.

The second half was dominated by Auckland City FC who made a raft of expected changes and they could've easily added to their lead when Browne beat his man on the right and lofted over a well-timed cross that saw Manickum's glanced header parried away to safety.

Captain Angel Berlanga was pleased with the performance in warm temperatures.

"Today was good preparation for next week's NZF Charity Cup opener with Team Wellington.
"It was a good work out for us but there is still a lot for us to work on," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.

Outstanding for Auckland City FC were Lea'alafa and Browne who tormented their opposite numbers all afternoon.

"David and Micah are two very sharp players and you can see today what they offer the team in terms of their pace and skill.

"They're a lot easier to deal with when they're on your team. They always keep you on your toes and it's great to see them in good form," he said.

Berlanga started the match alongside fellow veteran Mario Bilen but the Auckland City FC skipper was quick to point out there would be no guarantee who would start the season at centre back.

"I don't know if that is how it will be when the season begins but Mario and I have been playing at the club for six or seven seasons now.

"It's easy to get along with Mario because we're both experienced players but we also have Te Atawhai and Brian and others who can come into the team.

"I don't think it matters who starts because our overall quality is very high and that's good for the club," he said.

Auckland City FC's next match is a pre-season friendly with Waitakere United at the Croatian Club on Wednesday 10 October 2018 at 6.30pm NZST which means three matches in a week including the Team Wellington clash and today's 2-1 victory.

Berlanga doesn't mind the workload and insists it's necessary to get everything exactly right in terms of fitness, technique and tactically.

"Pre-season means we have to load our bodies for the campaign ahead now because it's going to be a very long season.

"It doesn't matter if there is tiredness, it's important to get the kilometres into your legs now because we'll need that later on," he said.

Ends

Match Result
Saturday 6 October 2018
Eastern Suburbs AFC 1 (Andre De Jong 12'-pen)
Auckland City FC 2 (Javier Lopez 22'-pen, Micah Lea'alafa 42')
HT: 1-2
FT: 1-2

AC: Ruben Parker (GK)(Cameron Brown (GK)46'); Alfie Rogers (Takuya Iwata 46'), Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, Angel Berlanga (c) (Brian Kaltak 46'), Mario Bilen (Yousif Al Kalisy 46'); Cam Howieson (Fabrizio Tavano 46'), Jordan Vale (Hayden McHenerey 46'), David Browne (Reid Drake 46'), Micah Lea'alafa, Javier Lopez (Maro Bonsu-Maro 46'), Dan Morgan (Dylan Manickum 46').

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