Auckland through to the final

Auckland City's Micah Lea’alafa celebrates scoring the only goal of the day. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Auckland City have booked their place in the Stirling Sports Premiership Final after they defeated Hawke’s Bay United 1-0 at Kiwitea St in Auckland this afternoon.

In a hard-fought match, where Auckland City overwhelmingly dominated the possession and territory stakes, the hosts took the lead in the 64th through Micah Lea’alafa which proved to be the defining moment of the game.

The Minor Premiers’ fans were signing when forward Ryan De Vries and Lea’alafa combined well outside of the box, with the dangerous midfielder lashing home with a superb finish.

It was a deserved lead for the Navy Blues who had dominated the ball and play throughout the first half but could not find the finishing touch when it was needed.

Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx, who was without three of his starting line-up Clayton Lewis, Joao Moreira and Fabrizio Tavano for the fixture, was pleased to have another chance to win the Stirling Sports Premiership Final.

Listen to audio from an interview with Auckland City coach Ramon Tribulietx

“It was a very well-played game,” said Tribulietx. “We completely dominated but we did not capitalise on the chances that we created in the first half. It was a well-played game against a very good side. They defended well and very deep and they made life hard for us but congrats to our players who played well.”

Tribulietx said the standout for him was the character his team showed to finish off the game. It was pleasing after losing their initiative in many games during the regular season.

Auckland City's Albert Riera in action. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Auckland City’s Albert Riera in action. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

“We have been in this situation a lot this season where we have been 1-0 up in the last five or six minutes and we haven’t been able to finish it off. Today we were smart enough to not concede at the end.”

Hawke’s Bay United coach Brett Angell, who said his side respected their rivals but they did not fear them, opted for a game-plan where they sat back and let the Navy Blues play. For the most part it worked well with keeper Joshua Hill frustrating the Auckland City front-line. But they could not score themselves and could not contain the dangerous attacking play of Auckland City.

Hawkes Bay's Finlay Milne gets the better of Auckland City's Emiliano Tade. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Hawkes Bay’s Finlay Milne gets the better of Auckland City’s Emiliano Tade. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Ten minutes after the Lea’alafa goal, the task got a lot tougher for Hawke’s Bay United when hard-working midfielder Corey Chettelburgh was sent off for a second yellow card after a foul on De Vries.

Hawkes Bay's Cory Chettleburgh is given his marching orders after getting a 2nd yellow. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Hawkes Bay’s Cory Chettleburgh is given his marching orders after getting a 2nd yellow. Stirling Sports Premiership Semi Final, Auckland City FC v Hawkes Bay United, Kiwitea Street Auckland, Saturday 25th March 2017. Copyright Photo: Shane Wenzlick

Angell’s side, who made the final by winning seven of their last eight games, were chasing the game and going down to 10 men against an Auckland City side that was in control was a step too far.

Angell continued his fine record of taking his team to the semi-finals for the third year in succession, but Hawke’s Bay prolonged their poor playoff record. They have now made the final four eight times and only advanced once.

Meanwhile Auckland City, the six-time Premiership champions, will look to make history by winning the title for a record seventh time.

They will face either defending champions Team Wellington or Waitakere United, who meet in the second semi-final tomorrow at David Farrington Park, on Sunday 2 April at QBE Stadium in Albany.

Auckland City FC 1 (Micah Lea’alafa 64’) Hawke’s Bay United 0
HT 0-0
Red Card Corey Chettelburgh 74’

 

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