This years first Super City Derby saw something of an inversion of last season’s blockbusting meltdown at the Trusts Arena. There’s been some, apparently minor, changes to both teams since the end of the 2016/17 season and yet both teams appeared not be to be chasing shadows, as chasing shadows of their former selves.
Partly that’s down to it being early days in the 2017/18 ISPS Handa Premiership, although you’ll recall Round 1 last year was an attritional absorbing surprise 0 – 1 to Waitakere away at Kiwitea Street. Partly it’s down to the experience of being the equivalent of at least twelve running lanes away from the pitchside hoardings at the Trusts arena, if you include the long jump track and the grass on the far side.
This was a record win for City in the derby, and yet at 3 – 0 up with two Waitakere defenders sent on the long march to the dressing rooms (and the other substituted to prevent a third joining them) some City supporters were leaving with the Waitakere fans. “It’s over, I’m off home”. Twenty minutes and two goals were left at that point.
Not exactly a gripping encounter then. The chips were good though.
In some ways this derby was about the players who weren’t there for each side. Waitakere United were bereft of Pascal Reinhardt from last season, opting for Keegan Linderboom playing up top with Dylan Manickum playing off him. The midfield of Francini, Shaw and Butler was industrious, but lacked an attacking edge. Dan Morgan, who scored one in two for the Westies last season, was at the game – but playing in Navy Blue, at left-wing back.
City also looked slightly sluggish, as they often do when Mario Bilen isn’t running their midfield. He’s out injured with whispers that his, and City’s, Club World Cup chances might be imperilled as a result The front three of De Vries, Tade and McCowatt played narrow, which should have let Morgan and White run down the flanks.
It didn’t though, Chris Milicich had his side set up to press and squeeze City, looking for the counterattack. Linderboom should have scored early on in the first half, a one-touch interception pass from Manickum sending him clear of a high City line. Despite time, and an option for a square ball, he sent it wide.
Ryan Cain went into the book early on for a ball-stopping lunge on Ryan De Vries, who’d pulled wide in an effort to get something going for the Navy Blues.
He picked up his second for a thudding boot in on Emiliano Tade, but only after a handball in the box had been spotted and Tade had equalled Grant Young’s domestic scoring record for City. From the stands, the handball appeared to be the result of the ball being trapped between two Waitakere defenders – not sure intent was there, but the referee pointed to the spot.
11 v 11 the game was tight, with neither side willing to give the other space in the midfield. De Vries then doubled the lead, and showed he’s regaining the form he was often missing last season, with an angled strike beyond Liam Anderson on the stroke of half-time.
Ten man Waitakere came out organised in the second-half, but it was clear their aim was to keep the scoreline down rather than try and level things up. It took fifteen minutes for City to strike again, Ryan De Vries dancing around the edge of the eighteen yard box and seeming to have missed his opportunity to shoot before producing a sumptuous chip which left Waitakere defenders as statues and dropped neatly beyond the advancing Anderson. I’d run out of chips by then.
Bad to worse as Julyan Colyett recieved his second yellow in the same fashion as Cain had, a thudding challenge on the edge of the box in an attempt to stem the City advances.
There was yet time for Tade to grab his second, and become City’s top scorer in the NZFC. He’s five or six goals behind Allan Pearce’s all-time scoring record in the competition, but has started the season with the momentum that should carry him beyond the Waitakere stalwart’s 70 goals. I considered buying some more chips, but the concession had closed.
Final Score: Waitākere United 0 – 5 Auckland City F.C
De Vries completed his hat-trick in injury time. The best you can hope for is that City improve in playing against teams with 11 men, because this swatting aside of an eventually 9-man team isn’t a particularly good yardstick to measure them against after their opening day defeat to Team Wellington and last weeks late draw with Southern United.
For Waitakere United, creativity will be key. Against other teams in the competition perhaps there will be a little bit more maneuverability in the midfield and more opportunities for the often stranded pair of Linderboom and Manickum. My Manukau bias kicks in here, but Andre Estay was sat on the bench today – there’s someone who makes things happen. Give him a shot, coach!
Categories: NZ Men's National League
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.