Southern spoils Auckland's perfect record

Southern United forward Azariah Soromon executes a pass during a National Football Premiership match at Sunnyvale last night, while Auckland City players Yousif Ali and Takuya Iwata try to intercept it. Photo: Linda Robertson
Southern United forward Azariah Soromon executes a pass during a National Football Premiership match at Sunnyvale last night, while Auckland City players Yousif Ali and Takuya Iwata try to intercept it. Photo: Linda Robertson
When is a draw a win?

When you have inflicted the only blemish on Auckland City's otherwise perfect record.

Southern United held the visitor to a 1-1 draw at Sunnyvale last night.

It is the first time Auckland City has been forced to share the competition points in the league this season. The result snapped its 14-game winning streak in the premiership.

Arguably, Auckland City was lucky to escape with a draw. Its only goal came from a controversial penalty in the 69th
minute.

And while it dominated possession and held on to the ball for long periods, it played a lot of football in its own half and seldom threatened to score.

Its attacking game was flat, but then that was understandable, given the taxing week the team endured.

Auckland City was playing its third game in six days - including one in Hong Kong - and the energy levels were down.

Southern lived off scraps for most of the game and barely had the ball in the opening 10 minutes.

Striker Garbhan Coughlan forced a corner from one of
his first touches and it proved critical.

Azariah Soromon sent a powerful header careening towards the net. But keeper Ruben Parker palmed the ball on to the upright in a brilliant reflex save.

The ball, though, fell nicely for defender Stephen Last and he stabbed it past Parker, who was lying flat on the ground following his heroic effort barely a second earlier.

Southern finished the rest of the half quite nicely. But the second half was more about holding on.

To be fair, the home side was doing a rather good job of it until that penalty. Striker Javier Lopez Iglesias stepped up and snuck the ball past keeper Liam Little, who guessed right and got a lot of glove on the ball.

Other than a goal mouth scramble shortly after, Auckland City did not come close to a winner.

Southern United coach Paul O'Reilly was delighted his side had secured a point from what was a tough game, even against a tired opponent.

''I thought we were well in the game in the first half and caused them some problems,'' he said.

''The second half was more of a hang-on job where we were defending for our lives.

''They are a quality, quality outfit, so I'm absolutely thrilled.''

He was not so thrilled with the penalty which cost his side victory. He felt the contact on Yousif Ali in the box was not worse than the contact on Coughlan in the 90th minute.

''I thought it was harsh. I thought it was slight contact. I think it was one of those where there is a little bit of contact and the guy has gone down and made the most of it.

''I don't think it was dissimilar to the one at the other end. It was probably a penalty but the other one should have been a penalty as well.''

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