Another narrow loss

Melville’s frustrating 2020 season tottered on with a 0-1 home loss to Manukau United, who post-match were presented with the Joma Challenge Cup contested between the clubs.

Melville played as well as might be expected from a squad missing coach Sam Wilkinson – suspended in the wake of his post-match comments about the refereeing debacle a week earlier when none of the officials knew the laws of the game regarding penalty encroachment – player-assistant coach Aaron Scott, top goalscorer Kieran Richards, and the experienced Mark Jones and Steve Holloway.

In the 15th minute Manukau striker Maro Bonsu-Maro nutted home a free header for his first goal of the season, and it proved to be the difference between the teams.

For Melville Harry Mason got his first start though only lasted about 18 minutes before going off with a rib injury. Two 17-year-olds, Ryen Lawrence and Jerson Giraldo came off the bench to make their first team debuts.

Melville had a good slice of possession but little cut-through in the final third.

Riku Soejima, perhaps unlucky not to have been starting, came on and almost immediately hit the bar from distance. Levi Clark had a grand chance to equalise in the second half but Manukau keeper Camilo Cabezas made a brilliant save.

However Manukau also had a blistering shot from distance ruled out, while Andre Estay had the goal at his mercy late in the game but shot wide.

Manukau United coach Kevin Fallon had kind words for Melville.

“You’re not a team with no points,” Fallon said of opponents who had no points. “I was very nervous throughout and delighted with the win. I always knew a team coached by the Wilkinsons would be tough regardless of the circumstances.”

A Melville team spokesman said the on-pitch effort could not be faulted.

“Words are a bit cheap when you are repeating them every week, but we were well organised but just fell a bit short in both boxes.”

He praised the referees, headed by Ben Norman, not just for their decision-making, but also for knowing the laws of the game.

Melville are away to Bay Olympic – beaten 6-0 by Western Springs – on Saturday.

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