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It is often said that referees have the best seat in the house but 16-year-old goalkeeper Josh Dijkstra, in his national league debut, certainly saw plenty of Auckland s as strikers poured forward and scored almost at will.
Dijkstra was a late replacement for injured regular keeper Tom Batty and his pedigree justified that choice, after he was invited to the Wellington Phoenix for trials earlier this year.
The lad did little wrong, making several excellent saves, especially in one-on-one situations where his bravery was never in doubt, and his ball distribution was excellent.
But against a champion Auckland side, the injury-ridden Southern United was always going to struggle, and it was just 16 minutes before Andrew Milne carved past several tackles, committed defenders, then set up Emiliano Tade to drill in that first goal.
Ten minutes later, the tall new Auckland signing from Portugal, Joao Moreira, who was signed as a youth by Valencia FC, showed his languid class by swerving past defenders and drilling a low shot past Dijkstra.
Southern did not defend in depth and, as suggested by coach Luiz Uehara, pushed forward. But while that attacking attitude produced some forward runs, it left gaps at the back.
Jacob Schneider, Peter Rae and Dan Morris all created half-chances, and Regan Coldicott set up the best chance of the first half, slipping the ball to Morris, who hit a strong shot that had Auckland keeper Tamati Williams pulling off a full-length save.
The halftime score was 2-nil. The second half was all downhill. The game deteriorated into shooting practice for Auckland, although
Dijkstra kept the score almost respectable with some brave stops and agile saves. Second-half goals were scored by Tade (56th), Darren White (67th, 82nd), Takuya Iwata (71st) Adam Dickinson, (72nd), Chris Bale (75th), Andrew Milne penalty (79th), De Vries (92nd).
A distressed Southern coach Luiz Uehara shook his head. ''They were just far to good for us. Too sharp, too fit, and very well organised. We can only aim at that level of athleticism and patterned play.
''We have been training five sessions each week all season, but still could not compete as athletes, never mind playing football.
''However, while it's not an excuse, we were short of players due to injury, and one bright spot was the super performance by young Dijkstra in goal. He showed real potential,'' Uehara said
Auckland's Ramon Tribulietx said: ''We did play efficiently, and our new man Jaoa [Moreira] fitted in well. But I feel that such a big win can be dangerous for us. Next time out will obviously by much more difficult, and we must guard against complacency.''
On Saturday, Canterbury beat Southern 1-nil in a National Youth League fixture at 12.30pm at Tahuna. Southern made a slow start, then battled into the match, creating chances.
However, too many went astray, and in the second half Canterbury bossed the game as the local side struggled. Boon Ozama scored the winner with a clever turn and shot in the 57th minute Canterbury is second top of the Southern Conference, while
Southern is bottom, nine points behind.
• The Wellington Phoenix's strong run of form was brought to a crashing halt as they were hammered 5-0 by the Melbourne Heart at Westpac Stadium tyesterday.
Wellington, which had lost only once in its past eight games, was awful as the Heart put the side under constant pressure, APNZ reported.
The home side was unable to string together any momentum. The Heart, which came in to the game languishing at the bottom of the A-League ladder, was without midfielder Harry Kewell, who missed the trip to New Zealand due to a toe injury.
Despite being bottom of the table, the Heart had won three of its previous four games, continuing to show improvement under new coach John van 't Schip.
The visitors took the lead when giant midfielder Orlando Engelaar blasted home a shot from outside the box in the ninth minute, and striker David Williams became the first Heart player to score a hat-trick. Wellington was left to contemplate its worst performance of the season.
The result leaves the Phoenix in seventh place, just outside the playoff picture.
Auckland City 10
Emiliano Tade 2, Joao Moreira, Darren White 2, Takuya Iwata, Adam Dickinson, Chris Bale, Andrew Milne, Ryan De Vries.
Southern United 0