A tense first leg meeting between Wellington Olympic and Auckland City FC has ended 1-1 at Martin Luckie Park in Wellington, as both sides look to be New Zealand’s representative at the OFC Champions League 2023.
Wellington turned on a sunny day for the match, which came only a few weeks after defending OFC Champions League champions Auckland had participated in the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. Olympic came in with a fair degree of confidence after pushing the powerful Auckland side in their previous meetings.
Perhaps that was why the home side had the better of the early exchanges. A defensive error by Auckland gave Jack Henry-Sinclair a chance to put Olympic ahead in only the third minute, but his shot went flying wide. Hamish Watson also had an early chance for Olympic, but his effort sailed over the bar.
Watson was brought down right on the edge of the box after 15 minutes, the free kick ended up being Olympic’s best chance of the first half, but the ball ended up safely in goalkeeper Connor Treacy’s grasp.
The rest of the half was looking very cagey, with Auckland clearly showing the experience of playing these sorts of fixtures. Cam Howieson let a shot loose from outside the box after half an hour, but that was easily saved by Olympic’s Scott Basalaj.
Which was why it was a bit of surprise when the deadlock was broken by Olympic as halftime loomed. Jack Henry-Stevens collected the ball on halfway and sent a perfect long pass down to the left-hand side of the box, Joel Stevens was a yard ahead of his marker to gently divert it past Treacy and into the back of the net.
The tight nature of the contest returned in the second half, with chances few and far between for both sides. It was looking to be a win for Olympic, until the 79th minute when Christian Gray found himself open at the back post and finished a fine cross to level the scores.
There was a late chance to Olympic by Jack Henry-Sinclair as a ball was popped over the top and onto his feet in the box, but some more stellar work by Treacy ensured that the locked up result remained intact.
The teams meet again for the second leg next Saturday at the Kiwitea St ground in Auckland.
WELLINGTON OLYMPIC 1 (Joel STEVENS 37’)
AUCKLAND CITY FC 1 (Christian GRAY 79’)