Auckland City sneak home against Team Wellington to extend ASB Premiership lead

Auckland City have taken a major step towards locking up top spot in the ASB Premiership after seeing off a spirited Team Wellington outfit 1-0 in Albany on Thursday night.

Less than two weeks after playing out a drama-filled 2-2 draw in the capital, the teams seemed destined for another stalemate at QBE Stadium following an impressive defensive display from Matt Calcott's men.

However, they couldn't finish the job as All White Clayton Lewis got the Navy Blues home in the 82nd-minute to lift them five points clear at the top of the table with five games left in the season.  

A tight first half saw few clear-cut chances for both sides, with Wellington doing a good job of limiting Auckland's time in possession.

Ryan De Vries almost opened the scoring for City in the 10th minute when he got in front of his defender, only to send his shot into the upright.

Wellington's best opportunity of the half came 10 minutes later when the hosts conceded a corner after a mix-up at the back. However, Luis Corrales was unable to latch onto a sublime pass into the box from Saul Halpin.

Wellington did a great job of shutting down Auckland's attacking threats in the opening 45 minutes and that continued after the break.

Having been kept relatively quiet for most of the game, the competition's joint-leading goalscorer Ben Harris came close to rewarding the visitors' hard work when his header forced City keeper Diego Rivas into action.

And that seemed to spark City into life as they responded with two gilt-edged chances they should have put away.

The first came from Emiliano Tade, who was perhaps guilty of being a tad too clever after breaking clear, delaying his shot and giving time for the defence to scramble.

Three minutes later Tade played creator to put De Vries in space but the forward was again denied, this time by a brilliant save from Wellington keeper Scott Basalaj.

City continued to build pressure, though, and the breakthrough finally came when Lewis blasted in a shot which ricocheted off the post and the back of Basalaj before finding the back of the net.

It was a cruel way to finish for Wellington, the loss coming on the back of three consecutive draws that has seen them slip to fifth place on 15 points.

They have the chance to get back into the semi-final spots when they host fourth-place WaiBop United on Sunday, while Auckland are away to Hawke's Bay United. 

 - Stuff