Metro battle to break curse

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By JU­LIAN RAETHEL

It’s the battle to be crowned the foot­ball Kings of Mt Al­bert.

Metro FC have those brag­ging rights head­ing into the round 12 clash at Phyl­lis Re­serve on June 12 – and Mt Al­bert-Pon­sonby want them back.

The two sides last met in the open­ing match of the NRFL men’s first di­vi­sion back in March, with Metro leav­ing An­der­son Park as 2-1 vic­tors.

Metro direc­tor of foot­ball Ants Owens says that win ended a long run of losses against MAP.

‘‘We have a strange record of win­ning all our away games this sea­son,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s a friendly ri­valry [against MAP] ... there’s a lot of ban­ter in­volved with it.

‘‘The New North Rd derby. Win­ning that game will be the push-start we need for a suc­cess­ful sec­ond-half of the year.’’

Metro are in sixth place and would need to win the ma­jor­ity of their re­main­ing matches to be in con­tention for pro­mo­tion back into the pre­mier league.

Once the cream of the Auck­land foot­ball crop in the 1990s, Metro have seen a slump in the last 20 years.

Ti­tles dur­ing that pe­riod in­cluded the na­tional Su­per­club cham­pi­onship; NRFL first di­vi­sion and pre­mier di­vi­sion crowns; and a semi­fi­nal ap­pear­ance in the Chatham Cup.

The side dropped to the first di­vi­sion af­ter their un­suc­cess­ful 2011 cam­paign .

‘‘It was more about suc­cess rather than about devel­op­ment,’’ Owens says of the golden years. ‘‘ The aim is to get pro­moted with your own play­ers. We want to be the shop win­dow for the younger play­ers as a path­way.’’

The loss to Forrest Hil­lMil­ford on June 5 was a set­back but Owens is con­vinced that, with a fully fit team, things are start­ing to click.

Un­der lights at Phyl­lis Street Re­serve it was the vis­i­tors who pulled away in the last 20 min­utes. Metro cen­tre-back Craig Squires re­ceived his sec­ond yel­low card in the 68th minute with the scores locked at 0-0. Forrest Hill-Mil­ford striker Shay­don Young took ad­van­tage of the num­bers and scored two goals for the win.

‘‘We were re­ally dis­ap­pointed at los­ing that,’’ Owens says. ‘‘It was the first game we played with a full squad this sea­son.’’


Forrest Hill-Mil­ford’s Jack Caunter tries to catch Metro FC’s Botan Ibrahim.

Metro’s Rizal Ganief changes di­rec­tion.

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