Wellington Olympic – Match Report VS. Auckland City (21/08/2022)

Auckland City handily defeated Wellington Olympic 3-1 in Chatham Cup action. It was a match-up between the first place teams of New Zealand’s North and Central leagues respectively. Auckland City, recent winners of the OFC Champions League and undefeated in any competition this season won 3-1 and never looked particularly troubled by their Wellington-based opponents. Wellington Olympic played a 3-4-3 while Auckland United played in a 4-3-3. 

Jesse Randall 

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 20
  • Date of birth: 19/08/2002
  • Current Club: Wellington Olympic
  • Career: Tasman United, Hawkes Bay United, North Wellington F.C
  • Position: Winger
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Jesse Randall played on the left side of a front three in this match. He scored Wellington Olympic’s only goal and showed some good flashes and yet I left the match not entirely convinced by him. Randall played quite narrowly, allowing the left wing-back to make overlapping runs. He showed some good off-the-ball movement and was quite good at receiving the ball in the left half-space.

He also made some nice runs into the box but the ball did not get to him often. He was also an eager and relatively effective presser of the ball. He nearly took the ball off of Auckland City defenders several times and he continued to press throughout the game, demonstrating good stamina. His first touch was quite solid. There were a couple of moments where he was able to retain the ball under pressure and complete short-range layoffs. But his play with the ball just wasn’t saying very much.

There were several times when he was isolated against a player and just could not beat him with dribbling. This limited his ability to break into the box himself when he received the ball in the left half-space or on the wing. Usually, he just deferred to the wing-back or attempted a dribble that did not work. The result of this limitation is that he only had three shots from outside of the box. One of those shots happened to go in but I did not leave convinced that he can be a consistent goal threat against high-level opposition. 

Rating – B1

Randall is young and has a pretty strong goal-scoring record. But everyone with any kind of skill has a good goal-scoring record in New Zealand and against the best opposition in the domestic league, he didn’t look that threatening (despite scoring a goal). He’s probably worth checking on every now and then but I would not be rushing out to sign him at this stage. 

Jack-Henry Sinclair 

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 24
  • Date of Birth: 23/02/1998
  • Current Club: Wellington Olympic
  • Career: Hamilton Wanderers (Y), North Shore United, Wellington Phoenix Reserves, Three Kings United, Team Wellington
  • Position: Wing-Back
  • Secondary Position: Winger
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Jack-Henry Sinclair, a possessor of the rare double-barreled first name, played as a right-wing-back in this match. He was quite effective at moving the ball up and down the right flank but he struggled to beat players 1v1 and that limited his effectiveness on the flank. Sinclair clearly has more technical ability than the average NZNL player. He has a strong first touch, great off-the-ball movement, and strong passing. The main loop of Sinclair’s game was linking up with the right inside forward to break into the box, using his passing and movement. His play was not rewarded with a goal or an assist in this game but you could definitely see how he has managed to wrack up so many across his seasons in New Zealand. He was very good at getting to the byline and cutting the ball back, though these were all cleared away in this particular match, and he managed to get one decent shot off from the right side of the penalty area. But, like several of the New Zealand-based players I have looked at, his 1v1 dribbling ability really let him down. He just could not reliably beat his man, running right into defenders on several occasions. If he could do that then he would probably be unstoppable at this level. But he can’t, at least he couldn’t in this match, so he was very stoppable against the league’s best team. Sinclair was definitely more focused on attacking but he did do some decent defending, making a couple of interceptions. 

Rating – B1

Sinclair had a trial with the Wellington Phoenix a couple of months ago that was unsuccessful. I can kind of see why they chose to go in another direction, despite Sinclair’s NZNL numbers. As I have discussed previously, smaller leagues in Europe are a common landing spot for Kiwis who don’t make the Phoenix. If you’re a team in one of those leagues and you need an attacking wing-back then you could do a lot worse than Sinclair. But he’s 24 and he has limitations so it’s unlikely he will ever develop into anything more than what he currently is. 

Gianni Bouzoukis

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 21/09/1998
  • Current Club: Wellington Olympic
  • Career: Wellington Phoenix Reserves, Northern Kentucky University Norse, Lakeland Tropics
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Gianni Bouzoukis played as a striker in this match, though he often dropped deeper to try and link up with the midfield and play in the inside forwards. He caught my eye as a player worth watching because he is scoring a goal every 81 minutes this season. So naturally, in this game, he was almost completely anonymous. Maybe this should not be that surprising since, when you look closer, only four of his sixteen goals have come against opposition in the top half of the table. Bouzoukis had one shot in this match and it was the result of a nice run into the box. Other than that he dropped into the midfield quite a bit and played a few decent outlet passes. But he was also closed down quickly and struggled to deal with that. He had a hard time changing direction quickly so any pass that wasn’t played perfectly to him or loose ball was basically a guaranteed loss of possession. Obviously playing against Auckland City, a team who has not lost in any competition this season, is a difficult out. But when you’re a 23-year-old striker playing in a league that is technically amateur you’ve got to show *something* against higher-level opposition if you want to make a case for a move up. Plus it’s not like Wellington Olympic are total minnows. They are in first place in the central league and should be able to mount somewhat of a challenge. 

Rating – B1

Bouzoukis’ goal-scoring record is not that dissimilar to Alex Greive’s season which got him a move to St. Mirren in the Scottish Premiership. But his age, the fact that his goals are so disproportionately scored against the weakest teams, and his performance against the top domestic side doesn’t leave me very excited about his prospects outside of New Zealand. 

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