Auckland City and Auckland United both maintained their claims for grand final football with wins in the Men’s National League on Saturday.
City had to work hard for a 3-2 win at Christchurch United while Auckland United shaved Cashmere Technical 2-1.
Main photo: Auckland United … keep up the pressure on the league leaders. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Melville United won their third game in a row to move into the top half of the table.
Here’s our round-up of Saturday’s fixtures:
Navy Blues made to work for 3-2 win
Auckland City had to come from behind and then fend off a home-side resurgence before beating Christchurch United 3-2.
Christchurch struck first, when Blake Weston was left alone to head home from a corner.
Auckland City responded four minutes later with a trademark play that saw the ball travel wide, back and wide again as the Navy Blues moved forward as a unit.
Captain Cam Howieson made the decisive pass and run into the box to take the return and cross for Reid Drake to finish at the far post.
In the 40th minute, City played through the middle for Dylan Manickum to set up a play on the edge of the area, for Howieson to rifle home a well-placed shot.
That gave City a 2-1 lead at half-time.
Two critical incidents, both leading to penalties, defined the opening segment of the second half.
United were awarded a penalty straight after the break but Eddie Wilkinson struck it against the post.
On the hour mark, United’s Weston handled in the box, giving City a penalty which Angus Kilkolly had no trouble putting away.
In the 75th minute, Christchurch supporters were given hope when a high press paid off and the home side won possession with City on the back-pedal.
Daniel Maclennan was able to tap the ball in and it was 3-2.
The win takes City to the top of the table — overnight, at least.
Auckland United continue to stalk league leaders
Auckland United’s bid for a place in the grand final has been kept alive with a 2-1 win against Cashmere Technical at Keith Hay Park.
Cashmere’s playmaking Garbhan Coughlan conjured the opening goal when he featured twice in a move which resulted in him being upended by United’s Ross Haviland.
The resulting penalty was taken by Coughlan who sent the ‘keeper the wrong way, giving him his eighth goal of the season.
United levelled when they won back-to-back corners and Technical failed to properly deal with them.
When the second corner went through the box untouched, it was belted back into the area by Kurtis Mogg where Nic Zambrano was quick to react, shooting the ball into the net.
The game-winner came in the 77th minute when a five-player move led to substitute Guy-frank Penda crossing for Zambrano to head into the net.
The three points take United to within a point of second-placed Wellington Olympic who play their seventh round fixture at against Wellington Phoenix at Fraser Park on Sunday.
Melville land third win in a row with 3-2 victory in Wellington
Melville United’s good form continues with the Waikato club registered their third win in a row, after beating Miramar Rangers 3-2 at David Farrington Park.
Rangers went ahead in the 32nd minute when they won a direct free kick just outside the area.
Striker Hamish Watson smashed the ball past a wall but it deflected into the net, for an own goal.
In the 38th minute, Melville’s Campbell Brown made a brave run between defenders and was brought down. At first, the foul was judged to be outside the area but referee Calvin Berg had second thoughts and awarded a penalty.
Olliver Colloty struck a confident penalty to tie the game up.
The home side went ahead in the 51st minute when Sam Mason-Smith scored from a well-controlled shot from 15 metres.
Melville equalised in the 64th minute when a driving run by Stafford Dowling led to his cross being palmed by goalkeeper Joe Knowles into the path of Ryen Lawrence who swivelled and shot inside the post.
The goal set up an exciting finish for spectators and the winner came in the 71st minute.
Rangers failed to deal with a corner and the ball fell to Colloty who kept the ball down with a snap volley.
The win moves Melville into the top half of the table, a vast improvement given they started so poorly in the competition and took four rounds to find winning form.
Games played on Saturday November 12, 2022
Christchurch United 2 (Blake Weston 32′, Daniel Maclennan 76′)
Auckland City 3 (Reid Drake 36′, Cam Howieson 40′, Angus Kilkolly 61′ pen)
Auckland United 2 (Nic Zambrano 38′, 77′)
Cashmere Technical 1 (Garbhan Coughlan 17′ pen)
Miramar Rangers 2 (own goal 32′, Sam Mason-Smith 51′)
Melville United 3 (Olliver Colloty 38′, 71′, Ryen Lawrence 64′)
Games to be played on Sunday November 13, 2022
Wellington Phoenix v Wellington Olympic
Fraser Park, Wellington, 12pm
Napier City Rovers v Birkenhead United
Bluewater Stadium, Napier, 2pm