Football: Auckland City scramble to stay unbeaten

By Niall Anderson

Emiliano Tade scored twice for Auckland City. Photo / www.photosport.nz
Emiliano Tade scored twice for Auckland City. Photo / www.photosport.nz

Auckland City's unbeaten streak remains intact - but only just.

The ASB Premiership league leaders' run of 20 games undefeated looked in serious danger of ending today against an impressive Team Wellington unit, having to scramble to claim a 2-2 draw at David Farrington Park.

It was a clash packed with drama, with four goals in the first 25 minutes being complemented by three penalty decisions and a red card.

Wellington went in front first through centre back Bill Robertson, but former golden boot Emiliano Tade levelled the contest quickly after Wellington keeper Scott Basalaj fluffed a routine clearance.

Basalaj's opposite - Jacob Spoonley - came into question next, initially saving a penalty from Wellington striker Ben Harris, but Harris was given a second chance when Spoonley fouled him in his follow-up attempt to strike home the resulting ricochet.

The second penalty was blasted down the middle to give Wellington a 2-1 lead, but Tade again didn't let his side stay behind for long, bending a sumptuous free-kick into the top left-hand corner to tie proceedings.

As the frantic pace relaxed, Harris and Spoonley's battle continued, with Spoonley again bringing the English striker down in the box - conceding a penalty and being sent off.

However, in another twist, replacement keeper Danyon Drake saved the spotkick to keep the game tied.

It remained that way to the end, with Robertson missing a gilt-edged chance in the 96th minute, keeping Auckland's year-long winning streak alive.

Auckland top the table by two points over the pairing of Canterbury United and Hawke's Bay United, who were in action in their own top-four clash.

It was Hawke's Bay who came out on top to claim second spot on goal difference, recording a crucial 3-1 road win.

Tom Biss opened the scoring for the visitors in the second minute, a lead which remained until the 56th minute, when Canterbury youngster Angus Kilkolly pounced on a rebound to level the scores.

The parity didn't last though, as impressive Bay striker Hamish Watson bagged a double to seal the victory for Brett Angell's side.

Elsewhere, Waitakere United are in sixth spot after a 4-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix Reserves, while WaiBOP United sit two points outside the playoff picture in fifth after their 3-0 victory over Southern United on Thursday.

- NZ Herald

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