For the second year in a row Auckland City have scored a decisive late second goal to leave John Kerkhof Park with all three points. This time Sam Burfoot broke the locals’ hearts in a game that, unlike last season, saw us present more of an attacking threat.
In the end, however, the professionalism of the visitors saw them home. They were good on the ball, keeping it for long periods, and suffocating in defence when they needed to be.
The opening 20 minutes saw little in the way of goal mouth action as both sides matched each other in a midfield stoush.
One moment of top class skill came on 28 minutes when the visitors opened the scoring. David Browne, who was Auckland’s stand-out first half performer, gathered the ball outside the area after we cleared a corner from the Navy Blues. He sent it back with interest, his shot sizzling off Danyon Drake’s gloves then the underside of the cross bar and in. It was a superb strike.
Auckland held more sway as the matched headed towards the break, without really looking like doubling their lead.
We started the second half strongly with our best chance coming four minutes after the break. Federico Marquez broke down the left then crossed to Van Elia who had his shot is blocked. The rebound bounced up to Mark Jones who hooked his leg up past his ear and placed his shot wide with the Auckland defence struggling.
We had our moments during the second half, while Auckland’s second half sub, Joao Moreira, had a double effort blocked on the line.
As the match entered its death throes the visitors looked to close the game down, which they did with determined professionalism.
Burfoot’s late strike ensured their would be no late surprises and saw the Navy Blue head north with all the points in their Hyundai emblazoned bus.