Oceania Football Confederation > News > 2011 O-League > Derby win sends Auckland into final

Derby win sends Auckland into final

Group A leaders Amicale all but booked their spot in the final yesterday with a 5-1 win over Lautoka and were joined in doing so by Auckland today when an early Stuart Kelly goal was enough to see off the challenge of fellow Group B team Waitakere, who needed to secure a victory this afternoon to keep their title hopes alive.
Player-coach Neil Emblen and his men would have hoped for an early goal to settle the nerves and give them the belief required for a win but it was Auckland who found the net first in just the 12th minute.
Adam Dickinson picked the ball up just inside the Waitakere half and advanced forward before slipping a through ball into the path of Manel Exposito. The Spanish striker latched onto it and tried to go around Waitakere goalkeeper Andy Ralph, who could only block the ball into the path of Kelly on the edge of the box. The midfielder, once on the books of Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers, took full advantage of his good fortune by smashing the ball into the vacant net to the joy of much of the 2,500-strong crowd.
Waitakere worked hard to get back on level terms for the rest of the half but were without the influential figure of Roy Krishna – likely to be out for the rest of the season with a badly dislocated wrist – and appeared to miss the Fijian’s striker’s pace and incisive running.
The likes of Allan Pearce, Dakota Lucas and Ryan De Vries toiled hard in his absence but struggled to trouble Jacob Spoonley in the Auckland goal. Indeed, the majority of the few other clear-cut chances in the match fell the way of City as they looked to make sure of the points and confirm their place in the final.
The best opportunity of the second half arrived in the 60th minute when Kelly played a sharp one-two with David Mulligan and drew a fine save from Ralph with his edge-of-the-area strike. Exposito, who has had a big impact on the City attack since signing for the club in January, almost made it 2-0 just nine minutes later when he got on the end of a cross from substitute Adam McGeorge at the back post. He connected well with his side-foot volley but Ralph made another good save to keep his side in the game.
Time was starting to run out for Waitakere by that stage but, despite showing plenty of endeavour and determination, they were still struggling to create any chances and the City defence, lead by an inspirational performance from skipper Ivan Vicelich, saw out the last quarter of the match without many heart-stopping moments.
Co-coach Aaron McFarland, who takes the side with Ramon Tribulietx, is delighted to have confirmed a place in the final and was impressed with the discipline showed by his players in a fixture that has boiled over on previous occasions.
“We kept our cool on a day when the pressure on the players was going to be huge,” he says. “We were pretty good in front of goal and got a few shots on target and if it wasn’t for their keeper, who I thought was quality today, we might have got a couple more.”
McFarland believes the match was won thanks to solid performances from defensive midfielder Alex Feneridis and defenders Vicelich, Angel Berlanga, Ian Hogg and Adam Thomas.
“The back four were top notch today and didn’t give them much of a chance,” he says.
The City coaching staff do not know much about likely final opponents Amicale but McFarland says that will change over the coming weeks.
“They’ve banged in a hatful of goals but they’ve also conceded their fair share. We’ll do our homework on them and come up with a game plan to try to get our hands on the trophy,” he says.
Counterpart Emblen was bitterly disappointed with the result but had no complaints about his players’ performance.
“I can’t fault the lads’ effort, I thought they went at it until the end and did throw the kitchen sink at them,” he says. “But Auckland played well and held out.”
Emblen admitted that the absence of Krishna left a large hole in the Waitakere attack.
“It’s blatant for everyone to see that we miss Roy when he doesn’t play. And Sean Lovemore as well, he’s not available after being involved with the Wellington Phoenix and we’ve missed them both in the last few weeks. We’ve got to learn to deal without them and we’ve just seen how difficult it can be,” Emblen says.
“The lads will keep going and we’ve still got plenty to play for this year but, unfortunately, the big prize is now gone.”
Auckland City – Waitakere United Match Summary click here
Amicale – Lautoka Match Summary click here
Koloale – Hekari United Match Summary click here
Tefana – Magenta Match Summary click here
Competition Summary click here
2011 O-League Match Day Five Results
Auckland City: 1 (Stuart KELLY 12′)
Waitakere United: 0
Half-time: 1-0
Sunday 27 February
Kiwitea St
Auckland, New Zealand
Amicale: 5 (Fenedy MASAUVAKALO 7′, 45’+ 2′, 89′, Alick MAEMAE 29′, Jack WETNEY 33′)
Lautoka: 1 (Alvin AVINESH [PEN] 68′)
Half-time: 4-0
Saturday 26 February
PVL Stadium
Port Vila, Vanuatu
Koloale: 2 (Mostyn BEUI 28′, 66′)
Hekari United: 1 (Tuimasi MANUCA 79′)
Half-time: 1-0
Saturday 26 February
Lawson Tama Stadium
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Tefana: 0
Magenta: 3 (Cesar LOLOHEA 22′, Georges GOPE-FENEPEJ 78′, 81′)
Half-time: 0-1
Friday 25 February
Stade Louis Ganivet
Papeete, Tahiti

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