Second half blitz gets Melville home v Hibs
Melville notched their fifth successive northern league win with a 4-1 home victory over a dogged Hibiscus Coast team.
But with Western Springs also winning, and Manukau City having their game with Waitemata abandoned for poor light, they did not make any headway on the top two promotion positions, and time is running out with three matches left to play, and trailing Springs by two points.
The match against Hibiscus Coast offered shades of last weekend, when Melville were muddled for much of the first half, but got their act together in the second.
Melville’s passing was haphazard for much of the first spell, the crossing was dire and the set plays forgettable. Nevertheless they dominated possession against a durable Hibs team.
Melville were without the suspended Liam Hayes, and gave Jono Viviani his first start of the season, operating down the right flank.
Melville finally got the breakthrough early in the second half. Steven Holloway, not yet 37, came on for Eric “Jones”, whose age would only be known to someone with access to a police computer.
In the 52nd minute, with his first touch, Holloway wriggled free on the right and delivered a low pinpoint cross for left wing-back Lachie McIsaac (see feature photo) to bundle the ball home at the far post. McIsaac did well with very little room. It was the finish of someone who knew what they were doing in the 6 yard box.
Three minutes later Holloway scored himself and the pressure eased further.
Jama Boss then made it 3-0 with a fine low shot from the edge of the area and while Coast’s Jon Burns pulled one back for Coast with a header, Jacob Robb came off the bench to restore a margin of comfort for Melville.
Robb is one of the quieter men at Gower, but his goal was great reward for sticking it out through a rough patch.
It was his first goal for Melville’s first team since 2015, after being sidelined for 12 weeks this year, having hyper-extended his leg earlier this year.
Worry for Melville was that influential skipper Aaron Scott came off in the second half with a hamstring strain.
At the aftermatch Hibs coach Mauricio Rojas said: “Melville play the best football of anyone in the division”.
“It was a carbon copy of last week,” said Melville co-coach Michael Mayne. “We were not that intelligent in the first half, but we adapted better in the second half.”
Mayne gave player of the day to Holloway for his second half impact.
It was important the goals were shared around for Melville, because usual goalscoring hero, Marc Evans, had an off-day and seldom figured.
“I had a stinker,” Evans said. “But in a philosophic sense, that is just all part of the vicissitudes of football, and the dialectics of team sport. When one player eases off, others inevitably step up. Nature abhors a vacuum.”
Meanwhile Melville Reserves won 4-0 against Hibs, a team they lost to first time around. The win kept them on target for the league title.
Goals were scored by Josh Nooijens (2), Perry Katesmark, and Matt Shaw. Visiting Hibiscus Coast chairman Scott Beard said Melville had the best northern reserve team he had ever seen.
Melville are at home to mid-table Oratia on Saturday.