Auckland City were left contemplating the implications of a bitter-sweet O-League victory over AS Mont Dore in Sandringham tonight.
Despite registering a comfortable 4-0 winning margin, Auckland City saw central midfielders Paul Seaman and Liam Mulrooney recieve their second yellow cards of the competition which means both will miss Auckland’s final group match against Waitakere United which looms as a “must win” match.
Compounding Auckland City’s difficult evening was Grant Young’s spectacular penalty miss that soared several metres over the crossbar late in the match.
For AS Mont Dore it was a vastly improved performance. In the opening 10 minutes the New Caledonian champions managed to create four decent opportunities including an Yves Noel Faye effort that hit the face of the Auckland City crossbar with Ross Nicholson stranded and Michael Boxall scrambling to provide assistance.
Auckland City survived the early onslaught from the visitors and took the lead after 12 minutes when Keryn Jordan slipped a clever throughball for South African compatriot Grant Young before driving a shot past Christopher Tavergeaux at the near post.
Scottish midfielder Bryan Little added Auckland City’s second goal after 23 minutes finishing from close range. Despite a two goal buffer Auckland City mde heavy work of the game as AS Mont Dore continued to battle on. Marius Mapou and Yves Noel Faye continued to operate at the nerve centre of the visitors midfield but all too often AS Mont Dore lacked the final punch in the top third of the pitch.
The result was put beyond doubt when Grant Young scored possibly the best goal of the O-League so far in the 37th minute when a cross from the far right was headed back across goal by Little. AS Mont Dore managed to clear the ball but only as far as the edge of the penalty area to Young who took the ball on his chest before striking a controlled right foot dipping volley that looped beyond Tavergeaux and into the top right hand corner of the AS Mont Dore net.
Auckland City struggled to assert themselves thereafter and the match became a scrappy stop-start affair until Bryan Little put City further in front in the 67th minute with another fine finish in the AS Mont Dore penalty area. But it was agony for Auckland City ten minutes later when Paul Urlovic was brought down in the box only for Grant Young to fire the spot kick several metres over the crossbar.
“We didn’t push on (in numbers) enough but it was difficult going into this game knowing we would score a lot of goals and now the Waitakere United game is going to be the decider and obviously its a must win. We lacked a little bit of intensity. But I thought young Michael Boxall was fantastic for us,” Auckland City coach Paul Marshall said.
AS Mont Dore goalkeeper Yann Faye was adamant that his club still had a big role to play in determining the identity of the Group A winner.
“We lost 6-1 to Waitakere United and today we have lost 4-0 to Auckland City. But to me Auckland City have an edge. We will give our best in the final match against Waitakere United. We believe we can still do something in this competiton,” Faye said.
Auckland City now top Group A with 7 points, having scored 8 goals and conceded 2. Waitakere United drop to second place with 4 points from 2 games, scoring 8 goals, conceding 3 with two games to play. AS Mont Dore are bottom of the table having lost all 3 matches.
AUCKLAND CITY: Ross NICHOLSON; Riki VAN STEEDAN (Christoph POPSICH 78 ), Ben SIGMUND, Paul SEAMAN, Jonathon PERRY, Liam MULROONEY (Jonathan SMITH 62), James PRITCHETT, Grant YOUNG, Keryn JORDAN (Paul URLOVIC 55), Bryan LITTLE, Michael BOXALL.
SUBS NOT USED: Richard GILLESPIE, Paul VODANOVICH, Chad COOMBES, Jason HAYNE.
Yellow cards: Liam MULROONEY, Paul SEAMAN, Paul URLOVIC.
Red cards: none.
Goals: Grant YOUNG 12th min, 26th min, Bryan LITTLE 41st min, 65th min
AS MONT DORE: Christopher TAVERGEUX (Yann FAYE 46), Marius MAPOU, Patrick DIAIKE, Ramon DJAMALI, Kouriane Jacque CABA, Georges WADRENGES, Fabrice WEDE, Yves Noel FAYE, Martial Jean Phillipe NEMOADJOU, Charles WAMO, Stanley KABEU (Jose EURIBOA 56).
SUBS NOT USED: Daniel HARPER.
Yellow cards: Marius MAPOU.
Red cards: none.
Referee – Averii JACQUES (Tahiti)
Assistant Referee – Teariki GOODWIN (Cook Islands)
Assistant Referee – Jeremie HOATA (Tahiti)
Fourth Official – Tetua Paul HAITI (Tahiti)
Friday 23rd February, 2007 – AS Temanava (TAH) vs. Ba FC (FIJ) 8pm local time
3 – Paul URLOVIC (Auckland City), Commins MENAPI (Waitakere United), Grant YOUNG
2 – Daniel KOPRIVCIC (Waitakere United), Bryan LITTLE (Auckland City)
1 – Osea VAKATALESAU (Ba FC), Laisenia TUBA (Ba FC), Danny HAY (Waitakere United), Allan PEARCE (Waitakere United), Hoani EDWARDS (Waitakere United), Patrick DIAIKE (AS Mont Dore).