Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 10 March 2019
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Auckland City FC moved to within one match of completing an unbeaten regular season run in the ISPS Handa Premiership after Maro Bonsu-Maro's brace handed them a 2-1 win over Team Wellington today.
The Navy Blues made it 17 matches undefeated in a row thanks to Bonsu-Maro's double and if they beat Waitakere United in next week's final regular season game they will set a new competition record of most points of 52, a record currently held by Waitakere who claimed 51 points in the 2007-08 season.
The victory means Auckland City FC remain unbeaten in the ISPS Handa Premiership of one year, four months and 21 days, their last defeat a 3-1 reverse against Team Wellington in the opening game of last season.
FULL TIME | All done here at David Farrington Park as the visitors from @AucklandCity_FC take all three points home#teedubs— Team Wellington (@TeamWelly) March 10, 2019
(1-2) #ISPSHandaPrem #TWvAC pic.twitter.com/681zY1jFYw
The Navy Blues are unbeaten in 35 matches with 29 wins and five draws with one match lost on a technicality after fielding an ineligible player in a victory over Tasman United on 17 December 2018.
After beating the Solomon Warriors 6-0 in Honiara last week, Auckland City FC also set a new unbeaten record in the OFC Champions League of 28 matches, surpassing their own previous run of 27 matches set between 2008 and 2012.
While records continue to tumble, the Navy Blues got off to a wobbly start in the capital when Aaron Clapham exploited a rare defensive error to give Team Wellington a 1-0 lead after just 10 minutes at David Farrington Park.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx rested a number of key players handing starts to goalkeeper Ruben Parker, defenders Darren White, Brian Kaltak and Alfie Rogers, while Bonsu-Maro and recent new signing Omar Guardiola also began the match.
Tribulietx's faith in Bonsu-Maro was quickly rewarded with the speedy front runner netting an equaliser just four minutes after Clapham's opener.
Vanuatu international Kaltak left the pitch midway through the first half after copping a nasty blow to the head and was replaced by skipper Angel Berlanga.
Bonsu-Maro popped up with the winner deep into the second half to give Auckland City FC maximum points and their sixth unbeaten match in a row against their rivals from the capital.
Tribulietx, who said squad rotation would be key at this stage of the season, wa pleased with another victory after a month that saw his team play in Hong Kong and the Solomon Islands while maintaining their domestic dominance.
"We played a very good competitive game and started very well but we fell behind to an unfortunate goal from a short backpass on a slow pitch.
"It was a smart finish and a good goal despite the fact we dominated the start. The team showed it's personality and belief despite the number of changes we went with today and we kept playing.
"We had a lot of decent changes and eventually did so in the second half. They had some decent chances and needed a result and started to take more risks by shifting to a back three.
"We defended those situations and the set-pieces very well. I'm very happy with the spirit of the team and very happy with the players who came on and we have to be happy with how quickly they are growing individually," he said.
"Maro has only been with us for a few months and we have to be very careful with how much we keep our feet on the ground with him.
"It's great to see him getting 90 minutes and takng advantage of the opportunity in avery composed manner. He was very good out of possession and he was very good on that side of things.
"Maro has got a lot of power in his game and combined with his good technique he's scored two good goals and created two more good chances.
"It's great a striker can create four chances in a game and score twice. he gives a lot to the team but we have to keep focused as a team and as an individual.
"It was a dead rubber game for us in some respects and we need to keep that perspective when we judge the overal performance," he added.
"We played nine games in four weeks and a lot of players didn't travel like Dan Morgan and it was unfortunate we had to use Angel after Brian got injured. But we were able to give Fabrizio Tavano and Jordan Vale a rest and Cam Howieson only played a handful of minutes.
"We've had a lot of players play most of these matches and been playing and recovering and not really training and that's a very dangerous pattern to get in to because form starts to suffer.
"We need to be loading their fuel tanks a bit better and we'll look to do the same thing ahead of the Waitakere United. That might not be the best with that specific game in mind but beyond that we have a run of very important matches where this could be vital.
"The ISPS Handa Premiership semi-final is a game that matters and one we are focused on.
"Brian had a collision with Ross Allen and has a fracture to the side of his head apparently that's all we are dealing with so he was allowed to fly home.
"It's unfortunate for Brian the fracture is near one his eyes and he's going to be out for a number of weeks which is a blow for him and for us."
Auckland City FC's next match is a Super City derby at home to Waitakere United at Kiwitea Street on Sunday 17 March 2019.
The game kicks off at 4.35pm NZST and is live on Sky Sport.
ISPS Handa Premiership
Sunday 10 March 2019
Team Wellington 1 (Aaron CLAPHAM 10')
Auckland City FC 2 (Maro BONSU-MARO 14', 72')
AC: 1. Ruben PARKER (GK), 2. Darren WHITE, 6. Brian KALTAK (5. Angel BERLANA 25'), 8. Albert RIERA, 12. Dylan MANICKUM (19. David BROWNE 61'), 16. Yousif ALI (7. Cam HOWIESON 79'), 17. Reid DRAKE, 20. Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 21. Maro BONSU-MARO, 22. Omar GUARDIOLA, 23. Alfie ROGERS.
SUBS NOT USED: 1. Enaut ZUBIKARAI (GK), 3. Takuya IWATA.
COACH: Ramon TRIBULIETX.
Sun 24 Mar, 2019, kick-off 235pm NZST