Waitakere United 3
Auckland City 1
Waitakere United have thrown down the gauntlet to their seven ASB Premiership rivals after a 3-1 demolition of Auckland City at Kiwitea St yesterday.
A goal down after just 1m 27s and under pressure for the next 20 minutes, the visitors then seemingly flicked the switch and handed their long-time rivals a footballing lesson.
The margin in only their second win at this level at the ground was two goals. In reality the gap was far greater.
It was a disappointing effort from City after that dream start when towering Phil Edginton at the far post nodded home a David Mulligan corner. They remained competitive until midway through the first half but rarely after.
The 50-50 challenges were all won by a determined United. City showed little and did not force Waitakere goalkeeper Danny Robinson - handed a start when Andy Ralph injured a finger in the warm-up - into making a save in the last hour.
"We are very disappointed," said City co-coach Aaron McFarland. "There has to be a certain amount of player responsibility. The last two goals were very soft."
His co-coach Ramon Tribulietx admitted: "In the second half we were ready to come back but we weren't good enough. We conceded a very soft goal."
Looking ahead to Sunday's O-League game against Waitakere at Fred Taylor Park, McFarland said the loss was a "good lesson" and "good motivation" ahead of the O-League which he said was a priority.
They will need a huge turnaround if they are to test a Waitakere side who have jumped five points clear of their perennial rivals.
After that early setback - and a rash of questionable yellow cards from referee Chris Kerr which muted the occasion - Waitakere stepped up a gear and took complete control.
They equalised in a like manner, Allan Pearce glancing a back-header from a Zane Sole corner away from City custodian Jacob Spoonley. Waitakere went ahead in the 35th minute when man-of-the-match Ryan de Vries was rewarded for his persistence in running at the City defence, stroking the ball under Spoonley's diving attempt.
The visitors continued to run the show after the break with all players, from Robinson through the well-organised back four, the no-nonsense and dominant midfield to the roving strikeforce in control.
De Vries was rewarded with a second goal just five minutes into the second spell - he should have had a third after being expertly set-up by Roy Krishna. Elsewhere, Canterbury confirmed their rating as the biggest challengers to the Auckland teams with a crushing 4-2 away win over Team Wellington as Russell Kamo scored a first hat-trick for his Canterbury United team.
Waikato FC picked up their first win, beating Otago United 1-0 away while Hawkes Bay got up by the same score to beat YoungHeart Manawatu away.