Words: ACFC Media
Saturday 1 May 2021
DEVONPORT, New Zealand - Auckland City FC maintained their perfect start to the Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division campaign with a 3-1 win over North Shore United but coach Kris Bright was far from happy with his players.
Bright made several changes to his starting line-up with regular skipper Brooklyn Heath drafted into the first team squad alongside Addison Stewart while Finn McCracken dropped to the bench. That meant a start for Jesse Gage and Matthew Ellis and Kristoff Muller.
North Shore United came into this game off the back of seven straight defeats but the Navy Blues U-23's - resplendent in their all white alternative kit with navy blue trim - started with a flurry of goals.
Jeremiah Ruawhare scored the first, chasing down a backpass that goalkeeper Roshan Kumar slammed straight into the onrushing Ruawhare and into the back of the net after just three minutes.
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Ruawhare doubled the advantage just moments later when Kristoff Muller danced past several Shore defenders before cutting back beautifully for Ruawhare to sweep home again.
Matt Ellis, who has gathered up a handful of first team appearances in recent weeks, grabbed the Navy Blues third after just 13 minutes to leave Shore reeling.
With the Navy Blues 3-0 up, North Shore United awoke from their slumber and provided a more committed and carefree performance than when the scores were level with their efforts perhaps worthy of a goal.
With the visitors easing off, North Shore United lifted their intensity as Sam Burke went close with one effort with Alex Ferguson forcing a save out of Finn Dockerty on the hour mark.
Shore finally cut into Auckland City FC's lead when Andrew McMillan converted from the penalty mark to set up an end-to-end affair in which the Navy Blues struggled to recover their sharp incisiveness displayed in the opening 20 minutes.
Bright was frustrated at the end of a game his side flattered to deceive in.
"We were shocking today and North Shore United were worse. It was nearly a waste of an afternoon - I didn't learn anything, the players didn't learn anything.
"Everything we worked on during the week has simply gone out the window because we've played a team that concedes a hell of a lot of goals.
"The whole development side of today went out the door but the good news is we have five U-20 players in the first team squad today and it goes to show players like Brooklyn Heath, Addison Stewart and Dempsey Thomas are important to our team.
"We were arrogant. We do well, we've played six and won six, and we had an arrogance about us that we were going to put a lot of goals over North Shore United because of what we've done in the recent past.
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"I'm going to treat this as a positive outcome because it clearly illustrates that you can't simply turn up and expect to win games of football by double figure margins.
"Wilson Fisher stood out for us today. Rhys Davies showed he cared about what we were trying to do which was great. But the care factor, the desire, these aspects of our chaaracter weren't good enough overall.
"The point of our team is to show every week and at training that they want to play for the first team and today only Wilson and Rhys demonstrated that," he said.
Auckland City FC U-23s next match is at home to Birkenhead United on Saturday 8 May, 2021, at Croatian Cultural Society in Te Atatu. Kick off is 12.30pm NZDT.
Lotto NRFL U-23 Premier Division
Saturday 1 May 2021
North Shore United AFC 1 (Andrew McMILLAN 70'-pen)
Auckland City FC 3 (Jeremiah RUAWHARE 4', 7', Matt ELLIS 13')
AC: 1. Finn DOCKERTY (GK) (24. Anthony MOODIE (GK)), 2. Jesse GAGE (19. Conan REDDY), 4. Louie DANIELSON (15. Marcel STODDARD), 5. Anthony DUNCAN, 6. Wilson FISHER, 8. Alex SMITH (17. Tainui ADAMS), 10. Kristoff MULLER, 11. Jeremiah RUAWHARE, 12. Rhys DAVIES, 13. Fardeen MOHAMMED (9. Finn McCRACKEN), 21. Matthew ELLIS.
COACH: Kris BRIGHT.
ASSISTANT: Paul DRAKE.
Sat 22 May 2021, Eastern Suburbs, KO: 3pm, Madills Farm