Auckland City will play Eastern Suburbs in next month’s Chatham Cup final after beating Wellington Olympic 3-1 in their semi-final at Kiwitea Street.
The Navy Blues extended this year’s unbeaten streak to 30 games with the victory that sets up the chance for City to secure a dream treble, adding the Chatham Cup to their Northern League and OFC Champions League titles.
They went about their latest win with patience and a game plan that wore down Olympic as the semi-final went on, forcing their opponents to chase the game.
The Wellington side started brightly enough, trying to pick the right times to press the City defenders, but the home side broke through after nine minutes.
Awarded a free-kick just outside the Olympic area, City playmaker Cam Howieson began a three-player rehearsed set play that caught the defenders flat-footed, enabling Dylan Manickum to turn the ball into the net.
It was City’s 101st goal in all competitions this year.
Main photo: Dylan Manickum … put City ahead after 10 minutes. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
In the 15th minute, Olympic goalkeeper Scott Basalaj prevented City from going further ahead when he dived full length to turn a Ryan De Vries shot past the post.
Olympic’s hard work started to show as half-time approached and City winger Joe Lee took advantage of tiring legs, receiving a pass from De Vries and carefully turning past two defenders before slotting the ball into the net.
After turning around 2-0 down, Olympic clearly decided to throw caution to the wind at the restart, pushing more players forward.
In the 49th minute, they had their best chance of the game so far when Kailan Gould struck a free-kick that Auckland ‘keeper Conor Tracey could not hold and it spilled into the path of an Olympic player who shot wide.
A few minutes later, Olympic got the goal their second half effort deserved when Jessie Randall got loose on the edge of the area and rifled home a hard shot, low into the far corner.
Ominously, just after the hour mark, City coach Albert Reira worked his bench, bringing on serial goalgetter Emiliano Tade for scorer Lee.
It didn’t take long for Tade to cause his damage, latching onto a long ball and lobbing ‘keeper Basalaj from 20 metres to make it 3-1 with 22 minutes to go.
City continued to slow down play, dominating possession and forcing Olympic to chase the ball.
The Wellington players gave their all, forcing three corners and an attacking free-kick in stoppage time as they tried to find the miracle.
It didn’t come.
For City, it was win number 29 from 30 games in all competitions this year. And the chance to win another trophy.
Game played Sunday August 21, 2022
Auckland City 3 (Dylan Manickum 10′, Joe Lee 45′, Emiliano Tade 68′)
Wellington Olympic 1 (Jessie Randall 54′)
Here’s a full replay of the game: