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Auckland City v. Waitakere United, 2/2/13
Waitakere Come From Behind To End City's Unbeaten Run
by Jeremy Ruane
ASB Premiership leaders Waitakere United scored a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Auckland City at Kiwitea Street on 2 February to bring to an end the home team's 23-match unbeaten run in regular season play.

City's last defeat of that nature came at Canterbury United's hands at Kiwitea Street at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, and has effectively handed their arch-rivals a first-placed finish in this season's ASB Premiership, with Waitakere requiring just two points from their final three games to confirm top spot on the table.

A generally tight, cagey encounter unfolded, with little headway made by either side until a Brian Shelley challenge on Manel Exposito just outside the penalty area resulted in both players being booked, the latter for taking exception to the foul.

City were awarded the eighth minute free-kick, which Pedro Garcia flighted towards the far post. Danny Robinson's punch clear ricocheted off the incoming Chris Bale, but Aaron Scott was perfectly cleared to mop up the danger.

Three minutes later, United enjoyed no such fortune. Alex Feneridis unleashed a gorgeous up-and-down free-kick over the wall from twenty yards which arced into the top far corner of the net, Robinson barely moving as the ball careered past him to his left.

City looked to press home their advantage, a couple of Garcia corners causing consternation soon afterwards, one of which saw Ivan Vicelich's drive blocked to safety by Tristan Prattley, who, like City fullback Simon Arms, struggled when pressed during the opening half of play.

Waitakere largely fed on scraps throughout the first half, with Roy Krishna and Jake Butler lashing long-range efforts goalwards, with only the Fijian's strike requiring the intervention of Tamati Williams, who generally had little of consequence to do until the final five minutes of the half.

Eleven minutes before the break, Andrew Milne pinged a free-kick forward from inside his own half into United's penalty area, where the advancing figure of Robinson was beaten in the air by Adam Dickinson. The visitors were unable to clear their lines adequately, until Garcia's effort was diverted to safety by Scott.

Eleven minutes before the break, Andrew Milne pinged a free-kick forward from inside his own half into United's penalty area, where the advancing figure of Robinson was beaten in the air by Adam Dickinson. The visitors were unable to clear their lines adequately, until Garcia's effort was diverted to safety by Scott.
Two minutes before half-time, Waitakere levelled the scores in controversial circumstances. Luiz Del Monte pinged in a cross from the right which Tamati Williams appeared to be prevented from taking cleanly by Allan Pearce's challenge.

The ball arced over the pair of them and into the net by the far post, to the delight of the visiting fans, but the immense ire of Auckland's players, with captain Ivan Vicelich's vehement protests earning him a spot in referee Matt Conger's notebook, one of seven players to be shown the yellow card in this keenly contested local derby.

With City still coming to terms with being on level terms after having dominated the first half, United looked to rub their noses in it in first half stoppage time. Butler threaded a pass through for Krishna to chase, but Williams was alert to the danger and saved at the speedster's feet.

Waitakere were quickly out of the blocks in the second spell, Krishna's cross being headed down by Ryan de Vries into Butler's stride, with United's captain's twenty yard drive forcing Williams to scramble across his goal to ensure the shot crept narrowly past the far post, and not inside it.

That 46th minute effort was followed seconds later by an opportunity arising from de Vries catching Milne in possession on the left. The striker played the ball inside to half-time substitute Milos Nikolic, whose return pass invited the charging de Vries to take on Williams deep inside City's penalty area.

The 'keeper prevailed, and promptly started a City counter-attack from which the home team regained the lead. Albert Riera linked with Dickinson on the left, the striker jinking inside before threading a low cross across the penalty area.

No-one in a white shirt attacked the ball, and worse still from Waitakere's perspective, no one was marking the player to whom it eventually reached. Exposito gleefully controlled the ball then calmly picked his spot beyond Robinson - 2-1 Auckland.

Waitakere's response was eleven minutes in coming, but resulted in them getting back on level terms. Chad Coombes withstood a rugged lunge from Feneridis - fortunately he didn't connect with his opponent - and played the ball towards the byline, where de Vries was racing in to whip a cross across the goalmouth.

It cleared all-comers bar Krishna, who, despite the fact he was sliding in beyond the far post, was able to steer an angled shot on target which no-one in a City shirt reacted to until it had crossed the line - the league's leading marksman's twelfth goal of the campaign made it 2-2.
Straight from the kick-off, City attempted to take the lead for a third time, with Robinson just getting his fingertips to Exposito's twenty-five yard chip, a save which directed the goal-bound ball onto the bar and to safety on the hour.

Seven minutes later, United were awarded an indirect free-kick inside City's penalty area, with Pearce's effort deflecting off the defensive wall and over the crossbar. Within three minutes, at the other end of the park, Garcia's free-kick was being hooked off the line by Prattley, and prompted a lightning fast Waitakere counter-attack which was thwarted when Vicelich executed a text-book tackle to stop Krishna in his tracks.

The Fijian front-runner immediately pulled up, clutching his hamstring - his day was done. But his replacement carried on in like fashion, Dylan Stansfield instantly involving himself in proceedings by wriggling through Auckland's defence and forcing Williams to paw his low drive round the near post.

The resulting 74th minute corner saw Waitakere take the lead for the first time in the contest. Prattley's delivery was met at the near post by Nikolic, whose header was cleared off the line by Garcia. But Auckland failed to clear their lines, and after a right royal scramble, Tim Myers battered the ball into the top far corner of the net from ten yards - 3-2 United.

Auckland now had to chase the game, an equaliser necessary to maintain their unbeaten record. Ten minutes from time, Feneridis went close with a twenty-five yarder which brought the best out of Robinson, while in stoppage time, Exposito went desperately close with a curling effort which narrowly cleared the far post.

But the home team could well have been trailing by an even greater margin by this time, the offside flag harshly denying Coombes a fourth Waitakere goal in the 82nd minute. And when Feneridis was dismissed for a flying lunge in stoppage time, City's hopes were dashed, much to the delight of their arch-rivals, whose first win at Kiwitea Street since 7 November 2010 this was.

Auckland:     Williams; Arms (booked, 51), Vicelich (booked, 43), Bale; Garcia (Browne, 86), Riera, Feneridis (sent off, 90), Milne (booked, 61); Dickinson (Souto, 77), Exposito (booked, 7), Koprivcic (Tade, 72)
Waitakere:     Robinson; Scott, Shelley (booked, 7), Myers, Prattley; Coombes (booked, 55) (Beguely, 85), Butler, Del Monte (booked, 36) (Nikolic, 46); Pearce, Krishna (Stansfield, 72), De Vries
Referee:     Matt Conger

National League