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O-League Pair Extend Advantage
by Jeremy Ruane
Auckland City and Team Wellington extended their lead atop the ISPS Handa Premiership to four points on November 19 after recording contrasting victories in their respective fifth round fixtures.

The reigning champions relied on Angus Kilkolly's first half hat-trick to see off bottom-placed Hamilton Wanderers 3-1 at Porritt Stadium, where the marksman hit the post before opening the scoring in the fourth minute.

Four minutes later, Kilkolly had doubled Wellington's advantage, and such was the gay abandon with which they were making in-roads down the flanks, you could envisage Hamilton facing humiliation on nationwide TV if they didn't sort their act out sharpish.

Armin Pasagic offered some resistance for the home team, and it was fitting that he should score Hamilton's goal on the stroke of half-time, although it came sixty seconds after Kilkolly had completed his treble.

In truth, Wellington should have won by a far greater margin. The offside flag foiled Tom Jackson and Sekou Diane in the second spell, during which Matt Oliver made a string of fine saves, ably abetted by, in particular, Raheem Hunter-Ali, who made three goal-line clearances to keep the visitors scoreless in the second spell.

At Kiwitea Street, league leaders Auckland extended their goal difference advantage over their title rivals by pummelling Wellington Phoenix 4-0, despite the visitors fielding three of their Hyundai A-League squad members, with that team having been denied the opportunity to play this weekend by circumstances beyond their control.

Ryan de Vries squandered a great opportunity to give City a fourth minute lead, while Lewis Italiano denied the efforts of Emiliano Tade and Callum McCowatt either side of the Argentine breaking the deadlock in the 39th minute of a match in which Hamish Watson spurned the visitors' best chance of the first half.

City rammed home their advantage home half-way through the second spell, via a three-goal salvo in four minutes. Dae Wook Kim headed home a Tade corner in the 65th minute, and within sixty seconds Fabrizio Tavano had joined in the fun before Tade struck his eighth goal of the campaign to leave Auckland on easy street.

Ollie Whyte and Watson went close for Wellington in the second spell, but they could very easily have conceded more goals, with de Vries, Marko Dordevic, Darren White and Reid Drake all going close for the "Navy Blues".

In the lone Saturday encounter, Tasman United and Waitakere United battled out a scoreless draw at Trafalgar Park, where the visitors were reduced to ten men with six minutes to go as Nio Lacagnina committed his second bookable offence in what was an at times fractious encounter.

Alex Ridsdale had the best chance of the first half-hour when he saw his shot blocked on the line, to which Jake Butler responded soon after, drawing a good save from Cory Wilson.

The home team had strong penalty claims denied them in the 65th minute when Paul Ifill was clipped
as he looked to turn home the rebound from a Cameron Lindsay shot. Sixty seconds later, the former FA Cup Finalist had the ball in the net, only to be denied by the offside flag.

Further south, both Canterbury United and Southern United turned around half-time deficits to record vital victories - in the case of "The Dragons", their first of the season.

Canterbury overcame Eastern Suburbs 3-2 at English Park after first seeing Seth Clark succumb to a suspected broken wrist after twenty minutes. To rub salt into the wound, Jordan Vale gave "The Lilywhites" the lead soon after.

Come the half-time whistle, Derek Tieku had doubled the visitors' advantage, and they looked well on course for victory against their winless opponents, who got a foothold in the match just after the hour mark courtesy James Pendrigh's free-kick.

The Cantabrians kept on coming, and drew level seven minutes from time when Stephen Hoyle struck to set up a grandstand finish, which he himself provided deep in stoppage time to inflict a second successive defeat upon Suburbs.

Hawkes Bay United, their conquerors a week ago, experienced defeat for the first time this season when Southern United came home with a wet sail at Sunnyvale Park, prevailing 2-1 after Alex Palezevic had broken the deadlock just before the half-time whistle with a twenty-five yard screamer.

New Southern recruit Garbhan Coughlan made quite an impression in the second spell with his numerous attempts to get his team back on level terms, and his efforts paved the way for Andrew Ridden to do just that with nineteen minutes remaining.

Coughlan himself wasn't finished, however, and in stoppage time pinched the points for Southern when finally squeezing the ball home after Ruben Parker had foiled his first two attempts.

Action on the final weekend in November is spread across both days, with Auckland's final game before they head to the FIFA Club World Cup Finals seeing them hosting Hawkes Bay at Kiwitea Street on Saturday.

Two other matches are scheduled that day, with Tasman welcoming "The Lilywhites" to Trafalgar Park, while in the televised match, Wellington Phoenix and Southern square off at Westpac Stadium. Sunday's fare see Canterbury and Hamilton locking horns at English Park, while Waitakere and Team Wellington clash at Trusts Arena.

Auckland City 4 (E. Tade (39, 68), D. Kim (65), F. Tavano (66)), Wellington Phoenix 0  HT 1-0
Canterbury United 3 (J. Pendrigh (64), S. Hoyle (83, 90)), Eastern Suburbs 2 (J. Vale (22), D. Tieku (44))  HT 0-2
Hamilton Wanderers 1 (A. Pasagic (45)), Team Wellington 3 (A. Kilkolly (4, 8, 44))  HT 1-3
Southern United 2 (A. Ridden (71), G. Coughlan (90)), Hawkes Bay United 1 (A. Palazevic (43))  HT 0-1
Tasman United 0, Waitakere United 0

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