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Auckland start with win

But it was a far-from-flawless performance and co-coaches Aaron McFarland and Ramon Tribulietx have plenty to work on before City’s next Group B encounter against local rivals Waitakere United on November 14.
First-half goals to Adam McGeorge, All White David Mulligan and striker Daniel Koprivcic were enough to dispose of Magenta, who performed admirably in the previous edition of the O-League but put in an underwhelming shift this afternoon and struggled to produce anything as an attacking force.
McFarland was wary of the New Caledonians going into the match and was relieved to see City settle the nerves by striking so early.
“We’re delighted with the three points because we recalled that last year we battled to a 2-1 win here,” he says. “To go 3-0 up was a good effort but we are ultimately a little disappointed not to have gone on from there.”
Mulligan, who is in hot goal-scoring form after curling home two free-kicks in the 3-2 ASB Premiership away win over Waikato FC last weekend, missed a great chance to get off the O-League mark in just the eighth minute when he volleyed against the bar with the goal at his mercy. But City were not left to rue that gaffe.
Only ten minutes later, skilful youngster Adam Thomas struck the bar again from a Koprivcic header across goal but this time McGeorge was on hand to pounce on the rebound and head into an empty net. Mulligan atoned for his earlier miss in the 29th minute when his whipped free kick from wide on the right was misjudged by Magenta goalkeeper Michel Hne, who was left to pick the ball out of his net in red-faced fashion.
The game was all but over just a few minutes later when the Magenta defence again struggled to deal with a Mulligan set-piece delivery and Koprivcic headed the bouncing ball home from close range. There were only a handful of chances in a second half more notable for the brandishing of four yellow cards by Tahitian referee Norbert Hauata.
That did not surprise Tribulietx, who expected a physical approach from the sizeable New Caledonians.
“They’re very quick guys and are strong on the ball so you are always going to get some crunching tackles in there,” he says.
Tribulietx and McFarland were both members of City’s backroom staff last season and are therefore acutely aware how costly missed chances can prove. City finished equal on points with Waitakere in Group A of the 2010 O-League but were denied a place in the final on goal difference.
“It would’ve been good to get a couple more goals in the second half for our goal average. That’s something we have to look out this season after what happened last time,” Tribulietx says. “But 3-0 is a good win so we’ll take it.”
City have lost a core group of experienced campaigners – Chad Coombes is pursuing a professional career in England while Keryn Jordan, Ki-Hyung Lee, Greg Uhlmann, Paul Urlovic and Grant Young have all retired. All White defender Ivan Vicelich is still on the roster but is on a short-term professional contract in China and is not expected to take the field for City until December.
Despite seeing so many members of the old guard leave Kiwitea St, the new coaching team has faith in the youngsters coming through to replace them.
“We have some exciting new players and the style has continued from last year,” McFarland says. “The likes of Phil Edginton are filling the boots of Ivan Vicelich and we have a number of others as well. I think it will take some time to really gel as a cohesive group but they are willing to work hard for each other which is the most important thing.”
New Zealand’s other O-League representatives Waitakere are in action tomorrow when they face Tahiti’s AS Tefana at Fred Taylor Park from 2pm.
Auckland City vs. AS Magenta – Match Summary Download PDF
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