Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 20 November 2022
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC is through to the grand final of the National League Championship after an efficient 2-1 win over Miramar Rangers at a rain-soaked Kiwitea Street today.
Auckland City FC came into the game two points ahead of nearest challengers Birkenhead United and Auckland United following Birkenhead's 2-0 win over United yesterday.
This latest victory for Albert Riera's team increased that lead to five points with just one game left to play, thus ending the two United's competitive interests for 2022.
The Navy Blues spurned several decent chances to open the scoring with Angus Kilkolly twice heading over or wide after excellent crosses from the right by Liam Gillion.
Gillion, who last played for City in the 2-2 draw with Birkenhead United at Shepherds Park on 15 October, also tested Miramar goalkeeper Joe Knowles with a near post shot on the half hour mark.
Dylan Manickum nearly opened the scoring after Gerard Garriga evaded two opponents before slipping his team-mate in only for the shot to be pushed past Knowles' right hand upright.
The pressure finally told when Gillion sped clear of the Miramar defence before opting to lash past Knowles at his far post to make it 1-0.
The chances continued to come for City with Knowles stopping Cam Howieson, Reid Drake and Kilkolly with quality saves.
Knowles resistance was broken in controversial circumstances after Howieson was felled in the box allowing substitute Emi Tade to step forward to increase the lead with a powerful penalty kick on 70 minutes.
86' | 2-1— Auckland City FC (@AucklandCity_FC) November 20, 2022
Here's another look at the key moment of the second half - Howieson's volley, and the subsequent penalty decision.
You can't tell much from this angle but it'll give you something to chat about while it hoses down.
#ACvMR #NZNationalLeague #StrengthInUnity pic.twitter.com/JDT3mhaXrw
That advantage lasted mere minutes when Sam Mason-Smith lofted a beautifully judged long range shot into Conor Tracey's top right hand corner with 13 minutes left to play.
In other results, Wellington Olympic destroyed Christchurch United 7-1, Melville United won a thriller with Napier City Rovers, 4-3 and Birkenhead United edged Auckland United 2-0.
National League Championship
Sunday 20 November 2022
Auckland City FC 2 (Liam GILLION 45+1', Emiliano Tade 70'-pen)
Miramar Rangers 1 ( Sam MASON0SMITH 77')
AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 7. Cam HOWIESON (c), 8. Gerard GARRIGA (15. Aidan CAREY 75'), 9. Angus KILKOLLY (11. Ryan DE VRIES 75'), 10. Dylan MANICKUM (20. Emiliano TADE 68'), 12. Sam BROTHERTON, 14. Jordan VALE, 17. Reid DRAKE, 19. Liam GILLION, 22. Adam BELL (13. Takuya IWATA 69').
SUBS NOT USED: 24. Cam BROWN (GK).
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
ANALYST: Adria CASALS
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
MANAGER: Keith COTON.
ANALYST: Jarrod WALLACE.
SATURDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2022
Birkenhead United 2-0 Auckland United
Melville United 4-3 Napier City Rovers
Wellington Olympic 7-1 Christchurch United
SUNDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2022
Cashmere Technical Wellington Phoenix
Auckland City FC 2-1 Miramar Rangers
Sunday 4 December 2022, Wellington Olympic, Mount Smart Stadium