Auckland City have opened a 15-point lead at the top of the Northern League after beating nearest rivals Birkenhead United 5-3 in a midweek game at Shepherds Park.
The game, rescheduled to help ease City’s fixture congestion due to their participation in August’s OFC Champions League tournament, pitched the competition’s top two sides against each other in pouring rain.
City drew first blood through striker Ryan de Vries in the 18th minute.
Four minutes later, Angus Kilkolly doubled the Navy Blues lead.
United’s Sam Burfoot pulled back a goal on the half-hour and the sides went into half-time with Auckland City leading 2-1.
Adam Mitchell and Mario Ilich scored for City early in the second spell, stretching their lead to 4-1.
However, Birkenhead gave their supporters hope when they fought back through Luke Jorgensen and an own goal, leaving them trailing 4-3.
City restored a safety margin when Joe Lee struck in the 81st minute.
The side has now taken 49 points from a possible 51.
Photo: Ryan de Vries … opened the scoring for City. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Game played on Wednesday July 13, 2022
Birkenhead United 3 (Sam Burfoot 30′, Luke Jorgensen 63′, own goal 77′)
Auckland City 5 (Ryan de Vries 18′, Angus Kilkolly 22′, Adam Mitchell 51′, Mario Ilich 55′, Joe Lee 81′)