United and Olympic take over at the top of Men’s National League

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Auckland United and Wellington Olympic have moved to the top of the Men’s National League table with important wins.

United beat quadruple-chasing Auckland City 3-2 in the Dominion Road Derby while Wellington Olympic beat Napier City Rovers 5-2, despite playing half the game with only 10 men.

Main photo: Auckland United’s Josh Redfearn (9), goalscorer Guy-frank Essome Penda (middle) and a ball boy go for the aeroplane celebration in unison as the side takes a winning lead against Auckland City.

Here’s our round-up of Saturday’s fixtures:

Auckland United topple City in Dominion Road Derby

Auckland United are now the only unbeaten team left in the national league after sending local rivals Auckland City to only their second loss in all competitions in 2022.

United beat the Navy Blues 3-2 in wet conditions at Keith Hay Park.

United had the perfect start when Nic Zambrano met a cross on the full in the fifth minute, turning it into City’s net at the near post.

City levelled a minute before half-time when Joe Lee cut in from the right and laid off the ball for Emiliano Tade whose shot sneaked inside the post.

City’s Angus Kilkolly celebrates while United ‘keeper Mack Waite picks the ball out of the net after Emiliano Tade’s shot had beaten him.

United’s U-20 international Oliver Fay put the home side ahead again in the 62nd minute when he fed the ball to Andrew Blake who steered the ball back into Fay’s path, enabling him to strike the ball past ‘keeper Conor Tracey.

City created an equaliser in the 73rd minute when Lee and Tade combined again.

Lee, on the right, cut inside to his left foot, and he laid the ball across for Tade to shoot from the edge of the box and into the top of the goal.

United took the lead for the third time in the game when City substitute Aidan Carey misjudged a pass and laid it into space for the home side’s substitute Guy-frank Essome Penda to nip in and pea-roll the ball past Tracey.

10-man Olympic continue to look like title contenders

Wellington Olympic again showed their style when they beat Napier City Rovers 5-2 at Bluewater Stadium, despite playing half the game a man short.

Olympic had a player sent off at half-time, when they led 2-1, but they still outplayed the home side in the second spell, scoring three goals.

Napier had taken the lead in the 21st minute, Rovers’ Fergus Neil won the ball in midfield and played a quick ball into the box for Jonathan McNamara. He was tripped by Tor Petersen and referee Ben O’Connell had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

Neil sent ‘keeper Scott Basalaj the wrong way to score.

Five minutes later, Olympic levelled when a six-player move led to Kailan Gould sliding a pass into the path of Connor Gaul. He steered his shot inside the post for his seventh goal of the season.

Olympic took the lead in the 31st minute when a hopeful ball into the Rovers box was met by Gianni Bouzoukis.

The visitors were reduced to 10 men at the end of the first half when Tamupiwa Dimairo mistimed a tackle and was given a straight red.

Straight red for Olympic’s Tamupiwa Dimairo.

Despite playing a man short, Wellington side stretched the margin to 3-1 in the 53rd minute with an end-to-end move, started by ‘keeper Basalaj.

A long ball into the box was misjudged by Rovers’ goalkeeper Oscar Mason and it allowed Bouzoukis to turn and feed the ball to Jessie Randall who fired home from close.

Jessie Randall scores Olympic’s third goal.

Napier pulled back a goal in the 68th minute when a defensive mix-up left Leaford Allen unmarked and able to slot the ball into an empty net.

Olympic restored their buffer with a goal in the 78th minute, when Gould made a well-weighted pass into the path of substitute Jonty Roubos who scored with his first touch of the game.

With two minutes to go, Roubos used his speed to outpace his marker and score his second goal.

Rangers get first win despite spirited Phoenix fightback

Miramar Rangers got their first win of the season, beating Wellington Phoenix 3-2 at Fraser Park.

Miramar took control of the match in the first-half, leading 3-0 at the break courtesy of a brace from Sam Mason-Smith and an early Jorge Akers goal direct from a corner.

The reserves dominated the second-half and Riley Bidois pulled a goal back in just the 51st minute, but the young Nix were unable to find a second until substitute Ben Wallace bundled the ball home from a couple of yards with virtually the last kick of the ball.

The result leaves the Phoenix reserves in the middle of the 10-team table, while Rangers move off the bottom of the table and into eighth place.

Head coach Chris Greenacre watched the game from Wellington airport, after being called into the first-team staff for their fourth round A-League match against Melbourne City on Sunday, with his assistant Steve Coleman taking charge of the reserves.

Coleman made four changes to the XI that started last week’s 3-1 win over Christchurch United. Noah Karunaratne and Riley Bidois returned from first-team duty, while Finn Surman was released by Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay to get some game time, along with Lucas Mauragis, who made his second straight start for the reserves.

The young Nix found themselves a goal down just six minutes into the match when Akers’ in-swinging corner beat reserves goalkeeper Lukas Kelly-Heald at his near post.

Mason-Smith made it 2-0 to Miramar before 20 minutes were up on the clock, stroking home a pinpoint cross from six yards out.

The experienced English forward added his second and Rangers’ third shortly before the interval, expertly chipping Kelly-Heald from the right touchline.

Three-nil down the Phoenix reserves showed more intent after halftime and pinned Miramar in their half for long periods.

Five minutes into the second-half the young Nix had a reward with Bidois producing a tidy finish after being picked out by Matthew Sheridan, who moved into right back for the second 45.

Despite their dominance the reserves struggled to really test Joseph Knowles in the Rangers’ goal.

Substitute Josh Rudland came close in the 88th minute, rattling the post before being ruled offside.

Bidois and Miramar midfielder Andy Bevin were both shown straight red cards in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time for an incident that wasn’t caught on camera.

The young Nix weren’t able to capitalise from the resulting free-kick, but shortly after from a corner Wallace converted to make it 3-2.

Unfortunately for the Phoenix reserves it came too late, with the fulltime whistle blown moments later.

The reserves head to Auckland next weekend to play quadruple-chasing Auckland City at Kiwitea Street.


Games played on Saturday October 29, 2022

Auckland United 3 (Nic Zambrano 5′, Oliver Fay 62′, Guy-frank Essome Penda 80′)
Auckland City 2 (Emiliano Tade 44′, 75′)

Napier City Rovers 2 (Fergus Neil 21′ pen, Leaford Allen 68′)
Wellington Olympic 5 (Connor Gaul 28′, Gianni Bouzoukis 31′, Jessie Randall 53′, Jonty Roubos 78′, 88′)

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Riley Bidois 50′, Ben Walace 90+6′))
Miramar Rangers 3 (Jorge Akers 7′, Samuel Mason-Smith 19′, 44′)



Games to be played on Sunday October 30, 2022

Birkenhead United v Cashmere Technical 
Shepherds Park, Birkenhead, 2pm

Christchurch United v Melville United 
Christchurch Football Centre, Christchurch, 2.30pm

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