Local rivals Auckland City and Waitakere United are setting the standards in the National Youth League while fellow Auckland-based side Eastern Suburbs have continued to slip off the pace after the fourth round of action.
City remain the only undefeated team in the league after a pair of late goals gave them a 2-0 win over Southern United while Waitakere also took their time in breaking down Suburbs, eventually triumphing 1-0 in the first ever east-meets-west derby between the clubs.
Elsewhere, Team Wellington were in irresistible form going forward in their 7-1 triumph over the previously unbeaten Hamilton Wanderers while South Islanders Canterbury United and Tasman United also recorded victories.
The results mean Auckland now lead the table by a point over Waitakere and Wanderers while Hawke’s Bay United are rooted to the bottom of the table, having lost each of their four games so far.
Andy Peat’s City side were made to work hard for their place at the summit as Southern joined their senior counterparts in frustrating Auckland for long periods. The resistance was finally broken with a free kick by substitute Ignacio Machuca seven minutes from the end and Dino Botica then added a second in additional time to make sure of the points.
“It was a positive performance from the team and I was very impressed with how we retained possession,” Peat said. “Southern set up in a way that allowed us to have the ball in many periods of the game and we knew it was going to be a battle of attrition.”
Waitakere are snapping at the heels of their fierce cross-town rivals courtesy of a narrow win over Suburbs on Sunday – the reverse result to the Stirling Sports Premiership fixture between the clubs later that day. A Gilberto Souza goal proved enough to get the hosts over the line, leaving Suburbs to contemplate their second consecutive defeat after topping the table in the opening two rounds.
The side that became the first to beat Suburbs in the previous round with a surprise 6-1 win, Hamilton Wanderers, were brought crashing back down to earth by being on the other end of a similar scoreline this time. Wanderers had no answer to a rampant Team Wellington, for whom Ihaia Delaney scored a hat-trick and was joined in bulging the net by Elijah Just, Dalton Wilkins and Callum McCowatt, who blew the winning margin out with a late double. Hamilton responded though Marc Evans in the latter stages of the game but had already conceded four by that point, leaving the first team player’s third goal in two games of little relevance.
Also with their shooting boots on were the Tasman United players, who put five past Hawke’s Bay United on the road to earning a first win of the campaign. Alex Connor-McClean notched a brace in the second half but most of the impact was made before his exploits through Thang Vanuk, Callan Elliot and Labu Pan. To their credit, the Bay hit back on two occasions via Vinnie Mackirdy and Jorge Akers but were unable to avoid a fourth defeat on the trot.
It was the first victory for Tasman United in their debut season – although the region has previously been represented by the Nelson Marlborough Falcons – and co-coach Davor Tavich was pleased to finally be off the mark.
“We’ve got good footballers who are used to winning and having three losses was a bit demoralising,” he said. “So it was nice to get some reward for the training because they do train hard during the week.”
Canterbury were also in need of a win after not posting a three-pointer since the opening day of the season and were able to do so once more after accounting for the Wellington Phoenix 3-1. There were two goals early on in the capital as Renta Yamamoto and Matthew Conroy swapped strikes for Canterbury and the Phoenix respectively before Lyle Matthysen put the visitors in front just before the half hour. Jackson Brady wrapped up the scoring late on as Canterbury rose to fourth on the ladder.
The National Youth League returns this weekend with the fifth round, for more information and to view the full fixtures and standings please click here
National Youth League – Round Four
Hawke’s Bay United 2 (Vinnie Mackirdy 41’, Jorge Akers 68’)
Tasman United 5 (Thang Vanuk 15’, Callan Elliot 35’, Labu Pan 60’, Alex Connor-McClean 63’, 78’)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Matthew Conroy 4’)
Canterbury United 3 (Renta Yamamoto 2’, Lyle Matthysen 28’, Jackson Brady 85’)
Waitakere United 1 (Gilberto Souza 73’)
Eastern Suburbs 0
Auckland City 2 (Ignacio Machuca 83’, Dino Botica 90 + 4’)
Southern United 0
Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Marc Evans 77’)
Team Wellington 7 (Ihaia Delaney 18’, 65’, 82’, Elijah Just 46’, Dalton Wilkins 65’, Callum McCowatt 88’, 90’)