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Navy Blues win opening day thriller

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 14 October 2018

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC have won the NZF Charity Cup after a seven-goal opening day thriller with Team Wellington at Kiwitea Street today.

The 4-3 win handed Auckland City FC their fifth Charity Cup title since the competition began in 2011 and also handed the Navy Blues three important points in their pursuit of a sixth consecutive minor premiership title.

The manner of the victory would've also been pleasing for coach Ramon Tribulietx and his players following last season's abrupt ending to the campaign to Team Wellington in the OFC Champions League on April 29.

Trailing 2-0 to fine goals from Mario Barcia and Hamish Watson against the run of play, the Navy Blues staged a remarkable comeback with four goals from Cam Howieson, Javier Lopez Iglesias, Dan Morgan and Micah Lea'alafa.

Make no mistake, this match was a classic with Team Wellington clawing their way back into proceedings when Watson grabbed his second late on to set-up a nervy finish.

Barcia, whose first goal was a superb controlled dipping volley that gave Enaut Zubikarai no chance, had another dip from long range with minutes left that forced the Navy Blues goalkeeper into a wonderfully improvised save that he tipped onto the face of the crossbar.

While the victory was an important psychological boost for the season ahead, Barcia's goal finally ended Auckland City FC's run of not conceding in an ISPS Handa Premiership match since January 13, 2018, a total of 934 minutes.

Ramon Tribulietx described the game as a strange one to absorb given the frantic pace and unusually high number of goals.

"It was a very weird game, a sort of pre-season game with a lot of goals and neither side would be happy conceding that many.

"We started very well and we had the first four or five shots in the match but then Team Wellington scored the first two goals in just two or three minutes and in some circumstances that could've killed us but our team showed the mentality that they have and the players reacted very well and when we pulled one back we knew we were back in it," Tribulietx told www.aucklandcityfc.com

Auckland City FC's last match with Team Wellington was in the OFC Champions League with the capital men earning an away goals victory that saw them through to a final with Lautoka and ultimately the FIFA Club World Cup in the UAE.

A lack of clinical finishing put paid to the Navy Blues hopes that day but Tribulietx saw a big improvement in his team's chance creation today.

"We had another two or three chances in one-on-one situations that their goalkeeper stopped but in the end we created enough opportunities to score four goals and that proved enough for us to win.

"There are one or two things we need to keep working on tactically, particularly in transition - everytime we regained the ball in our own half we lost the momentum in our first or second decision far too many times.

"But these are errors that you expect in pre-season but coming back against Team Wellington in a game like this from 2-0 down is great and it's three important points for us.

"To comeback from 2-0 down was important because the situation could've gone a very different way and turned into a big loss for us if we had've dropped our heads and if we had lost our confidence.

"But we recognised we were playing very well and we came back and won the game. It's a fantastic result given how the game started.

"We're only five weeks into our preparations so we have a lot of things we need to work on. We need to put more emphasis on our transition and making better decisions when we are attacking," he said.

The Navy Blues next match is at home to Tasman United at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 21 October 2018.

The match kicks off at 2pm NZST.

Ends

Match Result
ISPS Handa Premiership/Charity Cup
Sunday 14 October 2018
Auckland City FC 4 (Cam Howieson 19', Javier Lopez 29', Dan Morgan 52', Micah Lea'alafa 73')
Team Wellington 3 (Mario Barcia 16', Hamish Watson 17', 84')
HT: 2-2

AC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Javier LOPEZ IGELSIAS (21. Maro BONSU-MARO 84'), 10. Micah LEA'ALAFA, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Dan MORGAN (17. Reid DRAKE 73'), 19. David BROWNE (6. Brian KALTAK 89'), 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

SUBS NOT USED: 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 12. Dylan MANICKUM.

COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX

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