Auckland City head coach Albert Reira says losing two games in a row is a “massive disappointment”, and he needs his players to bounce back for Sunday’s Grand Final against Wellington Olympic.
“I’m very upset, to be fair,” Reira told Auckland City’s YouTube channel after their 3-2 loss to Christchurch United in the final round of the Men’s National League.
Main photo: Disappointment for Auckland City players as Christchurch United celebrate their stoppage-time winner. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
The defeat means Wellington Olympic finish the championship phase top of the league table.
Reira said City had not learned their lesson after losing 3-1 to Olympic the weekend before, ending the club’s seven-year unbeaten record at their Kiwitea St home.
“Now we’re going to have to bounce back and win the National League,” Riera said, referring to the Grand Final against Olympic at Auckland’s Go Media Stadium Mt Smart on Sunday November 26.
The two clubs meet in a repeat of last season’s Grand Final.
Watch Albert Riera’s post-match interview
The turning point in Auckland City’s latest loss came in the 76th minute with the red card shown to defender Christian Gray.
The dismissal means Gray (26) faces a one-match suspension.
Auckland City were leading 2-1 at the time, and Christchurch United finished strongly with goals from Joel Peterson (89′) and Eoghan Stokes five minutes into stoppage time.
Meanwhile, Wellington Olympic came from behind to beat Wellington Phoenix Reserves 4-2.
The result left Olympic as the only unbeaten team in the National League, two points clear of arch-rivals Auckland City.
Tickets available for Grand Final
Games played on Saturday November 18, 2023
Auckland United 3 (Zachary Chuing 8′, Daniel Atkinson 77′, Dré Vollenhoven 90+4′)
Napier City Rovers 3 (Deri Corfe 40′, Jonathan McNamara 65′, James Hoyle 82′)
Petone 1 (Oliver Pickering 60′)
Manurewa 2 (Mohammed Muzakkir-Nabeel 63′, 83′)
Games played on Sunday November 19, 2023
Auckland City 2 (Dylan Manickum 15′, Angus Kilkolly 73′)
Christchurch United 3 (Eddie Wilkinson 51′, Joel Peterson 89′, Eoghan Stokes 90+5′)
Eastern Suburbs 5 (Finn McKenlay 6′, Ryan Verney 22′, Malcolm Young 37′, Campbell Strong 48′, Kingsley Sinclair 49′)
Cashmere Technical 1 (Garbhan Coughlan 86′)
Wellington Olympic 4 (Hamish Watson 46′, Joseph Hopper 70′, Gianni Bouzoukis 86′, 89′ pen)
Wellington Phoenix Reserves 2 (Lewis Partridge 15′, Josh Tollervey 31′)