Title celebrations delayed
Melville’s northern league division one title claim has been placed on hold for a week, after the Unicorns suffered their first league loss of the season, falling 1-3 at home to Waiheke United.
Needing just a point in front of an expectant home crowd, an under-strength Melville eked out an early lead, but were steadily worn down by a Waiheke team which was simply better in most departments.
Melville will now seek the point they need to clinch the title away to Ellerslie on Saturday, and with a side set to be a whole lot stronger than they managed to field against Waiheke, where Mark Jones, Josh Davies, Jama Boss, Federico Marquez, Liam Steffert and Luke Searle missing.
Melville took an 11th minute lead through Wade Molony, who struck high into the net after cutting in from the right.
But Waiheke levelled on the stroke of half time, when former Melville player Marc Who – also endearingly known as Marc Evans in some circles – converted from the spot with a typically expert penalty.
Ten minutes into the second half Marko Memedovich had an easy finish for Waiheke after Jerahl Hughes had breezed down the left flank. And Hughes sealed the win in stoppage time with a goal of his own, while Melville had Liam Hayes sent off for a second bookable offence.
It was a measure of how depleted Melville’s stocks were that when Kyle Wiznewski came on as a desperate final sub he became the 26th player to play for the Melville first team this season.
Melville co-coach Sam Wilkinson had no complaints.
“They were better than us,” he said. “I was disappointed we gave away a penalty just before half time, but we were sluggish in the second half and Waiheke were lively.
“It has brought us back down to earth with a bump.”