Words: ACFC Media
Sunday 12 November 2023
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC have suffered a 3-1 defeat to Wellington Olympic, which was their first in their 2023 National League campaign, following a tense and physical top-of-the-table cash on Sunday afternoon at Kiwitea.
Despite both sides have already secured their place in the competition’s Grand Final at Mount Smart Stadium on the 26th of November the game still had plenty riding on it with the Mediterranean Cup played for in games between the two sides to celebrate the two clubs Croatian and Greek roots and attachment to the Mediterranean Sea region also on the line.
The Navy Blues were keen to extend their perfect 2023 National League record to eight wins in a row while the visitors were looking for their first ever win over Auckland City following five defeats and a draw in their six previous meetings over the past two years.
In a fiercely contested first half Tor Davenport-Petersen headed just over the crossbar while Rayan Tayeb forced a save from Scott Basalaj at the other end but nothing separated the two sides at the break.
The Navy Blues enjoyed a good spell of possession after the restart with Zhou going narrowly wide from the edge of the box before Olympic taking the lead courtesy of an unlucky final touch by Christian Grayat the end of a surging counterattacking move led by Gianni Bouzoukis.
And the Greeks have doubled their advantage in the 74th minute with another own goal, this time by Jordan Vale, which was first thought to be a stabbing finish by Hamish Watson after a scramble in front of City keeper Joe Wallis.
Dylan Manickum pulled one back with a typically cool finish with 10 minutes on the clock and City poured forward looking for an equaliser only to leave the door open for Bouzoukis to seal the win in the 89th minute at the other end of the field.
It was Auckland City’s first home league defeat since 16th October 2016 and the result also reduced the Navy Blues National League lead over Olympic to one point with just one regular round to go.
Auckland City will host Christchurch United while Olympic entertain Wellington Phoenix Reserves in the final round next week before these two sides meet again in a mouthwatering National League title decider on 26 November with the Mediterranean Cup also up for grabs once again.
Saturday 12 November 2023
National League Championship Round 8
Auckland City FC: 1 ( Dylan MANICKUM 90+2)
Wellington Olympic 3 (Christian GRAY 64' (OG), Jordan VALE 74' (OG), Gianni BOUZOUKIS 89’)
AC: 1. 24. Joe WALLIS (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (c), 3. Adam MITCHELL, (25. Michael DEN HEIJER 58’), 4. Christian GRAY, 9. Angus KILKOLLY, (20. Emiliano TADE 69’), 10 Dylan MANICKUM, 13. Nathan LOBO, 14. Jordan VALE, 16. Joe LEE, (12. Regont MURATI 76’) 22. Tong ZHOU, (Cam HOWIESON 58’), 26. Rayan TAYEB.
SUBS NOT USED: Conor TRACEY (GK),
COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
TECHNICAL: Adria CASALS
LOGISTICS: Keith COTON
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
Wed 6 Dec 2023, United FC, Dubai, UAE, KO: 6.00pm local