Auckland City claim Charity Cup and go top

Auckland City FC team pose with the Charity Trophy during the Stirling Sports Premiership, Team Wellington vs Auckland City, David Farrington Park, Wellington, Sunday 08th January 2017. Copyright Photo: Raghavan Venugopal / www.photosport.nz

Auckland City FC coach Ramon Tribulietx has praised the character of his side after they went down to 10 men and still came home from Wellington with all three points and retained the NZF Charity Cup.

The round 10 fixture at David Farrington Park doubled as the Charity Cup Final and the Navy Blues delivered a gutsy performance in the physical contest to claim the silverware for the fourth time and become the first side to defend the Charity Cup. They also advanced to the top of the Stirling Sports Premiership table.

“Full credit must go to our squad,” said Tribulietx. “We weren’t flashy with either our fitness or our touch but we tucked in and were up for the battle. It’s a trophy. It’s the first trophy of the season so it’s great to win it again. There’s always pressure to win trophies at Auckland City FC so this is welcome.”

The visitors went ahead early when Ryan De Vries made the most of poor defending by Team Wellington skipper Bill Robertson and goalkeeper Scott Basalaj who allowed the striker to finish unchallenged on 12 minutes.

Only three minutes later the game changed completely when Fabrizio Tavano was shown a red card after he was adjudged to have fouled Joel Stevens. From there, Team Wellington dominated the match and Auckland City goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai was a standout figure making key saves from Leo Villa, Joel Stevens and Niko Kirwan as the home side piled on the pressure.

But it was Auckland City who doubled their advantage when De Vries broke clear then set up Emiliano Tade for the Navy Blues second with 21 minutes left on the clock. Ben Harris kept Team Wellington’s faint hopes alive when his cross to the back-post found the back of Zubikarai’s net in the 85th minute but a penalty was awarded when Darren White went down in the box and Emiliano Tade beat Basalaj from the penalty mark two minutes into injury time to mark a memorable win.

Across the Cook Straight, Canterbury United came from behind twice to defeat Tasman United 3-2 to claim their own piece of silverware the Mainland Football Challenge Trophy.

Stephen Hoyle was the hero from the Dragons when he headed home in a goalmouth scramble in injury time before he was mobbed by his ecstatic teammates.

Taman United had taken the lead early when Dylan Burns made a scything run through the middle and rifled a shot into the left hand corner in the 18th minute.

Canterbury looked likely and they got back on level terms when Andre de Jong scored in the 36th minute on the back on a neat one-two and soon after skipper Aaron Clapham made it two goals in as many minutes to take the lead.

Tasman got back on level terms when Tinashe Marowa managed a sharp finish in the 63rd minute before Hoyle’s heroic goal in the 93rd minute put the game to bed.

Meanwhile up in Auckland, Eastern Suburbs came from behind to draw 1-1 with the Wellington Phoenix U-20s at Bill McKinlay Park.

Malcom McPherson’s side, who were the early front-runners in the Stirling Sports Premiership, went behind in the 75th minute when they conceded an own goal.

But the Lily Whites rallied in front of their own fans and Sean Lovemore scored in the 80th minute to make sure they would claim a point and keep pace with the leaders.

“I actually thought we played pretty well considering we had a couple of weeks off,” said Suburbs coach McPherson. “I couldn’t have asked much more from the players in terms of their effort. We created a number of chances and on another day we could have won by three or four but it wasn’t to be.”

Across town, Waitakere United continued their momentum from last year thanks to goal from Ethan Galbraith on debut to secure a hard fought 1-0 win over Hawke’s Bay at The Trusts Arena.

Galbraith, who made a name for himself when he scored the winner for Birkenhead United in the Chatham Cup Final, slotted home from close range in the 65th minute to score the winner.

The home side had to rally when they lost their goalkeeper Pirmin Strasser in the 39th minute to a suspected fractured cheekbone but replacement Liam Anderson showed he was more than able.

The No 2 keeper made a number of telling saves to thwart the attacking efforts of Saul Halpin in particular and maintain a valuable clean sheet.

In the Saturday fixture, Southern United continued their resurgence when they put away Hamilton Wanderers 4-0 at Peter Johnstone Park in Mosgiel for their second straight win.

Southern, who struggled in the early stages of the season, opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Eric Molloy scored a stunner to set the tone.

Danny Furlong doubled the advantage on the back of clever interplay in the 33rd minute. Molloy added his second after half-time and substitute Sam Cosgrave scored with his first touch to complete a memorable day.

While the home team were superb in front of goal, keeper Liam Little was a standout at the other end making a number of great saves to keep a clean sheet.

Stirling Sports Premiership Round 10 Results

Team Wellington 1 (Ben Harris 85′)
Auckland City 3 (Ryan De Vries 12′, Emiliano Tade 69′, 90+2′-pen)
HT: 0-1
(Match doubled as the Charity Cup final)

Eastern Suburbs 1 (Sean Lovemore 80’)
Wellington Phoenix u-20s 1 (Own goal 75’)
HT: 0-0

Waitakere United 1 (Ethan Galbraith 65’)
Hawke’s Bay United 0
HT: 0-0

Tasman United 2 (Dylan Burns 18’, Tinashe Marowa 63’)
Canterbury United 3 (Andre de Jong 36’, Aaron Clapham 38’, Stephen Hoyle 93’)
HT: 1-2
(Match doubled as the Mainland Football Challenge Trophy)

Southern United 4 (Eric Molloy 6’, 46’, Danny Furlong 33’, Sam Cosgrave 86’)
Hamilton Wanderers 0
HT: 2-0

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