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Navy Blues grind out victory

Words: ACFC Media

Sunday 13 January 2019

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC's perfect start to the season continued after they notched a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Southern United in hot conditions at Kiwitea Street today.

Both goalkeepers were called into action early with Enaut Zubikarai denying Abdulla Al-Kalisy with a fine save low to his left and Liam Little pulling off two quality stops from David Browne then Javier Lopez.

Abdullah Al-Kalisy sped clear of Jordan Vale before cutting the ball back into the path of Garbhan Coughlan who slammed a powerful close range shot beyond Zubikarai.

The Navy Blues finished the half on the backfoot with Deeley forcing another important save from the former Real Sociedad goalkeeper.

Zubikarai's value to Auckland City FC was emphasised again 10 minutes after the restart when he pulled off a gobsmacking save to deny Southern United what looked a dead certain second goal.

The Navy Blues looked lacklustre throughout the match up to that point but that changed when they drew level after Southern United defender Erik Panzer sent the ball rocketing past own goalkeeper from close range near the hour mark.

The game turned on it's head just seven minutes later when Fabrizio Tavano's free-kick took a wicked deflection off the wall to beat Little for the second time.

Southern's opportunity to win the game seemed to evaporate in the sweltering heat after that blow as the home side moved into the ascendancy.

Tavano could've made it 3-1 when his tidy finish beat Little only for a falling Stephen Last to somehow dig the shot away from danger with his trailing leg.

Southern United's winless streak against the Navy Blues now stretches 27 matches over a near 13 year period dating back to their 1-0 win over Auckland City FC at Kiwitea Street on February 25, 2006.

Elsewhere, Eastern Suburbs closed the gap on the Navy Blues to just two points after a comfortable 4-0 win over the hapless Wellington Phoenix Reserves in the capital on Saturday

Canterbury United's grip on a top four spot tightened after they pulverised Hawke's Bay United 5-2 in Christchurch while Waitakere United upset OFC champions Team Wellington in a 2-1 defeat in the capital.

The Dragons win lifts them above Team Wellington in the table who will now be looking over their shoulder at the chasing pack.

Tasman United did Canterbury United a big favour when they caused another upset when they toppled playoff hopefuls Hamilton Wanderers 3-2 in South Auckland.

Ends

Match Result
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 13 January 2019
Auckland City FC 2 (Own Goal 58', Fabrizio TAVANO 65')
Southern United 1 (Garbhan COUGHLAN 39')
HT: 0-1

AC: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 4. Mario BILEN, 5. Angel BERLANGA (c), 7. Cam HOWIESON, 9. Javier LOPEZ (12. Dylan MANICKUM 71'), 10. Micah LEA'ALAFA, 11. Fabrizio TAVANO, 14. Jordan VALE, 15. Dan MORGAN, 17. Reid DRAKE (6. Brian KALTAK 66'), 19. David BROWNE.

SUBS NOT USED: 18. Ruben PARKER (GK), 16. Yousif ALI, 23. Alfie ROGERS.

COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX.

OTHER RESULTS

Saturday 12 January 2019
Wellington Phoenix 0
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Callum McCowatt 3, Elijah Just)
HT: 0-2

Sunday 13 January 2019
Canterbury United 5
Hawke's Bay United 2

Hamilton Wanderers 2
Tasman United 3

Team Wellington 1
Waitakere United 2

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