Trade-Marc finish for Melville
Marc Evans potted a stunning 93rd minute free kick from distance to earn Melville a stuttering 3-2 away win against East Coast Bays in northern premier league football.
After a frustrating run of games where the Unicorns have coughed up vital goals at the death, on this occasion it was Evans who starred in the late, late show.
The karmic tapestry finally equalised when the 37-year-old Welshman blasted home a world-class free kick from about 28 metres.
It was the first time this season Melville have scored more than one goal and was just their second win.
It was also a tonic for Evans, who had earlier butchered more chances than Simon Bridges as Melville stumbled to a 1-0 half time lead, then a 2-1 margin approaching the final 10 minutes, where they again conceded the advantage.
Melville didn’t play particularly well on a difficult surface and there was every chance they could even have lost this match in the dying stages.
But Evans, who on another day would have had a hat trick or more, had other ideas.
For Evans goalscoring is a state on mind, an attitude, and a confidence game.
“If you don’t think you will score, you certainly won’t,” he said. “You have to back yourself, and I never stopped believing.”
It helped that fellow Welshman Josh Davies gave him words of encouragement before the decisive free kick.
“Josh whispered in my ear: ‘Os gall Messi ei wneud, felly gallwch chi,” Evans said. (“If Messi can do it, so can you.”)
But Evans was later quick to reject the comparison with Messi, a player he has heard of.
“Two different players,” he said. “If anything, my right foot is stronger.”
Liam Hayes, playing further forward than usual, put Melville ahead in just the third minute, while some fans were still coming through the gates at a Bays City Park which is possibly the hardest in the league at which to find an adjacent car park.
Evans, Hayes, Kieran Richards , Logan Wisnewski and Mark Jones all had chances to extend the Melville lead, but instead it was Bays’ Nicolai Berry who levelled 10 minutes into the second half.
Aaron Scott initiated a promising move out of defence and continued his run to set up a good goalscoring opportunity. But Jones had his shot blocked, Bays broke, and with Scott not at home the Melville defence was all over the place.
Sub Josh Davies put Melville back in front when he nodded home a clever cross from the right by Evans in the 63rd minute.
But Bays levelled for a second time in the 84th minute, with Kelvin McMinn heading home from a free kick carelessly given away on the right. Melville didn’t look quite the same in defence once battle-worn Federico Marquez had been subbed off in the 69th minute, and coughed up a lot of cheap possession.
The win moved Melville ahead of East Coast Bays on the table, to 10th place, and now just 10 points adrift of leaders Eastern Suburbs.
With Max Tommy out with concussion, Jamie Searle got his first start at this level and gave a good account of himself. He made several excellent saves, particularly after one of Melville’s subs twice gave away possession in the defensive third in quick succession. With this appearance under his belt, Searle can now work on his ball distribution.
The really good news for Melville is they are capable of playing far, far better than this. The objective now is to win points at home, starting with Onehunga Sports on Saturday.
Melville Reserves drew 2-2, to stop the rot of recent big losses. Levi Clark nabbed a 91st minute equaliser, after Gabriel Jhang had earlier made it 1-1.
In the Federation League Melville lost 4-1 away to Otumoetai, with Josh Nooijen scoring for Melville.
On Friday night Melville Nobs beat Waikato Unicol 3-1 to remain top of Waikato Division One. Northern league coach Sam Wilkinson was among the stars for the Nobs, leading for calls for him to consider playing a cameo role at northern premier league level.