Football: Auckland City go clear at the top

By Niall Anderson

Emiliano Tade. Photo /
Emiliano Tade. Photo /

Once again, the path to the ASB Premiership title will go through Kiwitea Street.

There were a few scares along the way, but Auckland City moved back into sole position of the ASB Premiership ladder after a 3-1 win over Southern United this afternoon.

City are a point ahead of second-place Canterbury United with a game in hand, but their goal difference indicates a side which is truly a class above.

The six-time champions' goal difference of +13 is more than double the next best side in the competition, with Auckland managing to avoid the inconsistency that has hindered the other contenders.

Team Wellington were one of the contenders who could have kept pace with Auckland with a win, but they were held to a 2-2 draw against fellow top four side Hawke's Bay United.

Golden boot leader Ben Harris opened the scoring for Wellington in the sixth minute, but Sean Liddicoat equalised after the halftime interval.

Birhanu Taye then put Hawke's Bay ahead in the 56th minute, but Harris made it three goals in a 12 minute spell, converting a penalty for his sixth goal of the season.

The stalemate left a chance for Canterbury to leap up the ladder, and they took it with a comfortable 2-0 win over a struggling Waitakere United side.

Two first-half goals in a five minute span did the trick for the hosts, with Andre De Jong capitalising upon a fantastic Brock Messenger run to slot home, before an Aaron Clapham penalty into the top right corner gave Canterbury a lead they wouldn't relinquish despite a strong second half display from Waitakere.

The win put Canterbury top for the time being, but they dropped back into second spot when Auckland conquered Southern.

Excellent early Southern defending meant the hosts had to wait 37 minutes to break the deadlock, and it was prolific scorer Emiliano Tade who did so.

The manner of which the account opened was cruel for Southern custodian Tom Batty, after he had pulled off a stunning save to deny Ryan De Vries. Unfortunately for the visitors, the ball fell to Micah Lea'alafa who smartly squared it to Tade to slot home.

Southern equalised soon after halftime through Harley Rodeka, but Auckland bounced back through Tade's second goal, smashing home a cross from Mario Bilen.

Clayton Lewis sealed the win 15 minutes from time, collecting the ball in the midfield and charging forward before hitting a low left footed strike past a despairing Batty into the bottom right-hand corner.

On Saturday, WaiBOP United moved just three points out of a playoff spot after a 97th minute winner gave them a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Wellington Phoenix Reserves.

- NZ Herald

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