City prevail on day of penalty kick drama

Words: Zac Elkhishin

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Picture: Phototek

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Victorious Navy Blues stay top of the Northern League after a day of penalty kick drama with Tauranga City FC at Kiwitea Street on Monday.

Auckland City FC head coach Albert Riera made five changes from Good Friday's 1-0 win over Eastern Suburbs, resting Christian Gray and benching Angus Kilkolly, Tong Zhou, Liam Gillion and Nathan Lobo opting for youngsters Adam Bell and Stipe Ukich, while also handing starts to the experienced trio of Adam Mitchell, Ryan De Vries and Alfie Rogers.

The drama unfolded after 25 minutes when Venezuelan referee Andres Castro pointed to the spot due to a handball in the box by a Tauranga City FC defender.

Ryan De Vries, closing in on 100 goals for the club, stepped up but was denied by goalkeeper Callum Glover who saved his attempt only for the referee to bravely order the kick to be retaken after Glover was adjudged to have moved before the kick was taken.

De Vries wiped away the nerves and made no mistake the second time around, and calmly slotted the ball into the right corner of the net sending Glover the wrong direction to give the Navy Blues a 1-0 lead.

VIDEO - Ryan De Vries goal

The hosts started strong in the second half stringing together some good chances including a corner taken by substitute Liam Gillion that almost found its way directly in the Tauranga goal, but keeper Glover was this time able to claw the ball away from danger.

Tauranga City FC responded with a few chances of their own but nothing to trouble Conor Tracey who turned in another good display after last week's Gridlock Derby victory.

Auckland City FC continued to look dangerous in their play as Gillion bolted down the right wing playing an effective ball into the six yard box that the Glover struggled to deal with only being able to parry it to the feet of Zhou who put his shot over the bar.

In the 81st minute, midfielder Joe Lee was chopped down in the box by a Tauranga City FC defender and Castro once again gave no hesitation in giving the penalty.

In a rerun of the De Vries penalty, Joe Lee watched in horror as his penalty was sensationally saved by Glover only for Castro to again call for a retake after the visitor's frustrated gloveman was penalised for an infringement.

Like De Vries, Lee made sure he scored with his second attempt although Glover was able to get a foot to it as the ball hit the net.

With Auckland City FC 2-0 up and seemingly in cruise control, Castro gave yet another penalty, this time at the other end.

Jonty Bidois showed none of the jitters of earlier penalty takers and slotted past Tracey to throw Tauranga City FC a much needed life line and penetrate the Navy Blues defence for the first time in the Northern League this season.

The atmosphere bubbled over as the match heated up in the closing stages with Glover, Scott Hawkins and Joel McMullan receiving cautions joining Mitchell and De Vries in Castro's book.

VIDEO - Post Match Reaction Mario Ilich

Riera's side finally restored their two goal buffer when a Kilkolly cross was deflected into the path of exciting young forward Ukich who finished calmly to make it 3-1 and maintain the Navy Blues 100 percent winning start to the regional title defence.

Auckland City FC's next match is away to Hamilton Wanderers on the Saturday 6 April at 5:30pm.

Northern League Round 3 Wrap

Elsewhere, a Joe Mechell hat-trick gave Eastern Suburbs its first win of the season after they downed newly promoted strugglers East Coast Bays, 3-1, with Thomas Nkoy on target for Bay. Former Navy Blues legend continues to enjoy life at new club Western Springs where his brace handed Bay Olympic a 2-0 defeat at Seddon Fields and a share of top spot.

West Coast Rangers needed a last gasp equaliser by former Waitakere United and All Whites striker Allan Pearce to draw 2-2 with Manurewa who twice led through Sean Leadley and Dylan Morris. Dawson Straffon had earlier netted Rangers' opener.

Rejuvenated Birkenhead United thumped Melville United 4-1 at Gower Park with Corban Piper scoring twice alongside a goal each for Monty Patterson and Dino Botica. Erik Panzer netted a late consolation goal for the Hamiltonians.

Two goals by Joshua Tollervey and one from Daniel Atkinson completed a comfortable 3-0 win for Dominion Road derby rivals Auckland United over Hamilton Wanderers.

Ends

Match Result
Northern League R3
Monday 1 April 2024
Auckland City FC 3 (Ryan DE VRIES 25'-pen, Joe LEE 80'-pen, Stipe UKICH 90'+4')
Tauranga City FC 1 (Jonty BIDOIS 82'-pen)
HT: 1-0.

AC: 1. Conor TRACEY (GK), 2. Mario ILICH (c), 3. Adam MITCHELL, 8. Gerard GARRIGA (22. Tong ZHOU 71'), 11. Ryan DE VRIES (9. Angus KILKOLLY 77'), 12. Regont MURATI (19. Liam GILLION 54'), 16. Joe LEE, 21. Adam BELL, 23. Alfie ROGERS (13. Nathan LOBO 54'), 25. Michael DEN HEIJER, 27. Stipe UKICH.

SUBS NOT USED: 24. Joe WALLIS (GK).

COACH: Albert RIERA
ASSISTANT COACH: Ivan VICELICH
GK COACH: Enaut ZUBIKARAI
FITNESS: Adria CASALS
PHYSIO: Matt PAYNE
MANAGER: Keith COTON.

OTHER RESULTS:
East Coast Bays 1-3 Eastern Suburbs
Wester Springs 2-0 Bay Olympic
West Coast Rangers 2-2 Manurewa
Melville United 1-4 Birkenhead United
Auckland United 3-0 Hamilton Wanderers

 
This Match Report compiled by Zac Elkhishin of AUT

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