Auckland City FC and Team Wellington produced a four goal thriller as the Navy Blues did enough to stay top of the ASB Premiership on Sunday afternoon.
The 2-2 draw at David Farrington Park in Wellington had everything – penalties, red cards, goals and drama, but crucially kept the jostle for the ASB Premiership minor title tight with Auckland City FC maintaining a slender two point lead over Hawke’s Bay United and Canterbury United.
A frenetic first 15 minutes saw the hosts go ahead 1-0 after just five minutes when Bill Robertson scored in a goal mouth scramble.
Within four minutes Emiliano Tade had equalised after Team Wellington goalkeeper Scott Basalaj fluffed a clearance allowing Tade to slot home on 9 minutes.
Then the real drama unfolded when Team Wellington were awarded a penalty that saw Auckland City FC goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley save Ben Harris’ spot-kick only for Spoonley to then foul Harris resulting in a second penalty.
Harris made no mistake at the second attempt and Spoonley was booked along with team-mate Darren White.
The excitement kept coming when Auckland City FC equalised for the second time after Tade saw a free-kick handled on the edge of the Team Wellington penalty box.
Mario Barcia was booked for the infringement but with the free-kick now a few metres closer Tade tucked a beautifully struck shot past Basalaj to make it 2-2 after just 23 minutes.
Both teams continued to create opportunities with Joao Moreira testing Basalaj with a header while Jesse Edge denied Team Wellington a third goal just before halftime when he cleared off the line.
But in a match where drama was the order of the day the second half replicated the first when Spoonley was shown a red card for taking out Harris midway through the second half.
The referee awarded Team Wellington their third penalty of the match but substitute goalkeeper Danyon Drake, on for forward Micah Lea’alafa, then produced a fantastic first up save to deny Harris low to his right.
Auckland City FC almost produced an unlikely winner when on a counter attack from a Team Wellington corner they managed to hit the face of the hosts crossbar with seven minutes left.
Auckland City FC have now gone 20 matches undefeated in the ASB Premiership, a run that includes 18 wins and two draws. Their last defeat in the competition was a 3-1 reverse to the Wellington Phoenix just over a year ago.
Team Wellington and Auckland City FC meet for the third time this season when the capital men travel north to face the Navy Blues on Thursday 28 January at QBE Stadium.
ASB Premiership 2015-16 – Round 8
Sunday 17 January
Team Wellington 2-2 Auckland City FC (half: 2-2)
TW: Bill Robertson 5′, Ben Harris (pen) 12′
AC: Emiliano Tade 9′, 23′
Story by Auckland City FC