Navy Blues go clear after Bonsu-Maro winner

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 2 December 2018

Picture: Phototek

HAMILTON, New Zealand - A last gasp Maro Bonsu-Maro goal hands ten man Auckland City FC a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory over Hamilton Wanderers as the Navy Blues open up a four point advantage at the top of the ISPS Handa Premiership.

The 1-0 win gives Auckland City FC the best start to an ISPS Handa Premiership in the history of the competition since 2011-12 season with seven straight wins but it could've easily been different against a well-drilled, hardworking, Hamilton Wanderers.

The home side showed great competitiveness and resilience with Tommy Semmy and Stafford Dowling a constant threat with their pace and strength on a compact Porritt Stadium pitch. Semmy tested Enaut Zubikarai early in the first half for the game's most clearcut chance in what unfolded as a tactical joust.

Mario Bilen - who was impressive in the first half - was taken off at the break because of a heel injury. But the match was spun on its head midway through the second half when Dylan Manickum was ordered off for a second bookable offence. Manickum's first had been for blocking a Wanderers free-kick, the second for leaving the studs showing in a tackle in which he appeared to have won the ball.

Coach Ramon Tribulietx restructured his team with a back four from a back three then threw on Yousif Ali Al Kalisy, Hayden McHenery and match winner Maro Bonsu-Maro.

"It was a very tough game and we have to be pleased with the effort we put in with just ten men in the second half. The first half was very tough and Wanderers pressed us man for man and we were playing into a strong wind and that made life difficult.

"We struggled to understand how to exploit the space in behind Wanderers but when we did we created two or three chances through Dan Morgan. The pitch was very nice to play on but also very slow so one mistake at the back could've cost us.

"In the second half we readjusted to a 4-3-3 formation and they struggled with the extra fullback. After Dylan was sent off that was when we played our football of the game because we weren't rushing with the ball and looked after possession better.

"The players deserve big credit for the effort they put in under the circumstances and they've got themselves a very big three points," Tribulietx told www.aucklandcityfc.com.

Maro Bonsu-Maro turned the game with a close range strike that broke Hamilton Wanderers hearts with just five minutes left to play and Tribulietx said the youngster deserved recognition.

"We needed our substitutes to give us something extra and we needed a player to make runs in behind or be able to hold the ball up.

"Maro has worked very hard to understand what we are about and he tries to learn. He's very young but he's got a great attitude and he got his reward.

"The three young substitutes came on and did a great job to help the team get the win and we're happy for the contribution they were able to make," he added.

The Navy Blues next match is in two weeks time when they face Tasman United at Saxton Field in Nelson on Sunday 16 December 2018 at 2pm NZST in what will be the club's final match of the calendar year.

Ends

Match Result
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 2 December 2018
Hamilton Wanderers 0
Auckland City FC 1 (Maro BONSU-MARO 85')
HT: 0-0
Dylan Manickum (AC) sent off on 65 minutes

AC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 4. Mario BILEN (16. Yousif Ali AL-KALISY 46'), 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 6. Brian KALTAK, 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Javier LOPEZ (21. Maro BONSU-MARO 80'), 12. Dylan MANICKUM, 13. Alfie ROGERS, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Dan MORGAN, 17. Reid DRAKE (2. Hayden McHENERY 75').

SUBS NOT USED: 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 3, Takuya IWATA.

COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX

Other results
Saturday 1 December 2018
Team Wellington 1 (Own Goal)
Canterbury United 1 (Maksim Kowal)

Waitakere United 0
Eastern Suburbs 2 (Andre De Jong 2)

Sunday 2 December 2018
Tasman United 2
Hawke's Bay United 4

Wellington Phoenix 1
Southern United 2

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