Federico stars in the late late show
Melville needed a stunning 88th minute goal from midfielder Federico Marquez to beat lowly Manurewa 2-1 at Gower Park.
The win gave Melville a 9-point lead over second placed Waiheke United with a game in hand at the top of the northern league first division, but their difficulty in gaining ascendancy over Manurewa belied the 33-point difference between the teams on the table.
Melville were a little flat, while Manurewa defended doggedly and tenaciously, despite falling behind in just the fourth minute following a corner. Officials credited it as being an own goal, though on Saturday night Liam Hayes was desperately lobbying for ownership.
Kieran Nevey drew Manurewa level in the 25th minute, when he took advantage of some sloppy Melville defending.
While Melville dominated possession for the rest of the match, they consistently came up short in front of goal.
But in the final minutes Marquez collected the ball wide on the left and smashed home a stunning left footer – his second goal of the season – to save the day and extend Melville’s winning streak to 14 matches.
Melville now have a 15-point promotion buffer, with a far superior goal difference. It is possible Melville could celebrate promotion as early as their home game against Waitemata on July 21.
Melville Reserves won 3-2, while Melville Feds beat Wanderers 5-0, with goals from Jordi Ditfort, Michael Kapa, Hamish Utteridge, Josh Nooijen and Subesh Naidu. Melville Nobs beat Cambridge 3-2 to remain top of Waikato A Division.
Melville are away to Hibiscus Coast next weekend, then on July 14 are at home to Onehunga Sports in the Chatham Cup.