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Waitakere United v. Auckland City, 25/11/12
Waitakere Rue Missed Chances As Auckland Pinch Point
by Jeremy Ruane
Reigning ASB Premiership champions Waitakere United were left to rue what might have been at Fred Taylor Park on 25 November, as FIFA Club World Cup Finals-bound Auckland City wrapped up their preparations for that conquest by pinching a point in the 37th Super City derby.

While the game finished 1-1, it is not overstating things to say that Waitakere could have been five goals to the good by half-time in this match, so numerous were the chances they spurned.

Within 75 seconds of the kick-off, both Roy Krishna and Chad Coombes had sent the ball fizzing narrowly past both posts of the goal defended by Jacob Spoonley, who turned an Allan Pearce cross round his near post in the third minute, as Krishna put him under pressure.

Auckland weren't on the back foot for long, however, their fifth minute response seeing Daniel Saric, Manel Exposito and Daniel Koprivcic link with the overlapping figure of Takuya Iwata, who thundered a shot past the post and into a car parked behind the goal.

The offside flag thwarted Krishna as he headed home from close-range in the ninth minute, while inside the next 120 seconds, Pearce and Daniel Morgan combined on the left, with the usually wild-haired fullback - not today, however - setting up David Mulligan on the edge of the goal area.

The midfielder put his head in his hands as he gifted the ball straight to Spoonley - a glorious chance squandered, but by no means the last. Before the next of these, however, City's 'keeper smothered a deflected drive from the outstanding Ryan de Vries - the game's star turn, the last shot of an opening fifteen minutes in which United all but threw the kitchen sink at their arch-rivals.

They still had something in reserve, however, and in the 23rd minute, captain Jake Butler unleashed it - an unerring twenty-five yard screamer which simply blurred past the stunned figure of Spoonley en route to the far corner of the net. While the 'keeper dived, there was no keeping this one out - in a word, unstoppable!

And fully deserved it was, too, Waitakere having easily been the better side so far - sharper, snappier, a side visibly keen to notch just their ninth win in the biggest clash in New Zealand men's football.

City, by contrast, gave the impression that they had one eye on their pending travel plans - they take on J-League Second Division club Matsumoto Yimaga
in Tokyo on Saturday, prior to drawing swords with newly crowned J-League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima five nights later in Yokohama, in their preliminary round encounter at the FIFA Club World Cup Finals.

So it came as little surprise to see Waitakere continuing to hold the ascendancy and striving to build on their advantage, rather than sit on it. On the half-hour, de Vries led the charge downfield before slipping Krishna through one-on-one with Spoonley, who blocked well with his feet.

Four minutes later, Waitakere missed two absolute sitters within seconds of each other. De Vries did all the donkey work down the left before picking out Krishna on the far post. His lazy shot was blocked by Alex Feneridis, with the ball promptly being hacked to seeming safety by a desperate City defence.

Seeming safety does not equate to de Vries, however. It would not surprise to discover that Saric is having nightmares about the South African youngster long after this encounter, for de Vries led his young rival a merry dance throughout the 45 minutes' action to which Saric was subjected in this match - he was found wanting, and was wisely withdrawn at half-time.

De Vries did so again on receipt of this clearance, this time getting to the by-line and picking out Mulligan, who was again six yards out from goal with just Spoonley to beat, a feat he achieved on this occasion. Incredibly, the set-piece specialist screwed his shot past the far post - simply staggering!

City must have thought their luck was in after this miss, and in the fortieth minute, carved out a rare threat on United's goal, which, remember, hadn't been breached in NZFC action so far this season to this point.

Albert Riera and Adam Dickinson looked to revive City's fortunes, in tandem with Exposito, who was thwarted by the combined presence of Brian Shelley and Danny Robinson on this occasion.

Sixty seconds later, however, the visitors were on level terms, Luis Corrales working a one-two with Exposito to pierce the Waitakere defence, from where the former beat Robinson all ends up with a well-taken equaliser, the first goal United had conceded in 311 minutes of ASB Premiership football this season.

The goal gave City something on which to build,
and with Andrew Milne replacing Saric for the second half, they looked a far more solid unit than had been evident during the first 45 minutes.

With United's rearguard eager not to be breached again, defences largely dominated the second spell, during which few genuine goalscoring opportunities were contrived. A vital Tim Myers challenge thwarted Corrales in the penalty area on the hour, prior to which the offside flag came to the rescue of both teams as they pursued a winner.

After Krishna had gone close with a rasping drive nineteen minutes from time, having worked a one-two with Pearce, substitute Maxsim Manko somehow sent the ball over the bar from close range upon receipt of a Mulligan corner minutes after having entered the fray.

It was the signal for Waitakere to produce a strong finish, but only after a brief gathering of the clans had ensued following a clash between Krishna and Ivan Vicelich in the 83rd minute. Referee Mirko Benischke handled this incident particularly well - his was a generally accomplished performance midst the mayhem into which a Super City derby can often descend.

Five minutes from time, Aaron Scott's fine work on the right culminated in a cross which de Vries headed at Spoonley, who looked on as the counter-attack he launched culminated in Robinson racing off his line to clear off the toes of Emiliano Tade seconds later.

Cue a neat one-two between Butler and Scott in the 89th minute, with United's captain picking out de Vries with his cross. A splendidly struck twenty yard volley on the turn deserved better fate than to clear both the fingertips of Spoonley and the crossbar by millimetres.

Another one-two soon after, between Pearce and Krishna, allowed the former to send a rasping twenty yarder fizzing past Spoonley's right-hand post, a shot which proved to be the last of note in this intriguing affair between these enduring rivals, with City no doubt more satisfied with the point they earned from this encounter.
Waitakere:     Robinson; Scott, Shelley, Myers, Morgan (booked, 35) (Beguely, 54); Coombes (booked, 48) (Manko, 74), Mulligan, Butler; Pearce, Krishna (booked, 83), de Vries
Auckland:     Spoonley; Saric (Milne, 46), Vicelich (booked, 45), Arms (booked, 75), Iwata; Koprivcic, Feneridis (booked, 65), Riera; Corrales (Tade, 76), Dickinson (booked, 48), Exposito
Referee:     Mirko Benischke



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