Another tough loss for Melville

Ouch. Melville have done it again.

Northern premier league fortunes took a further blow when Melville once again led early only to lose 3-2 away to a strong Eastern Suburbs side.

The “come from behind win” is a core part of football folklore, but the “come from in front loss” is a show nobody wishes to star in.

Call it Cup Final Syndrome if you like, but this was yet another frustrating and fruitless conclusion to a decent contest where Melville had enjoyed the early advantage.

Indeed, until the last 15 minutes this game was all about the four first half penalties.

Melville scored two within the first 17 minutes – spreading the glory around by having Kieran Richards pot the first one and then Mark Jones the second – to take a 2-0 lead at a time when they were finding plenty of forward momentum.

Richards, Dominick Edwards, and particularly Jones and Owen Comber all had lively starts and found plenty of space in the first 30 minutes

But before you could say “I bet the ref will be looking real hard to level the penalty count at the other end” Hayden Tutbury then pointed to the spot twice for Suburbs.

The first of these was undeniable. Logan Wisnewski gave away possession badly and then tracked back and fouled, for Martin Bueno to convert from the spot.

Bueno is of course more famed as the northern premier league’s player most likely to fall over in the penalty area – and it was no surprise when he (checks notes) duly fell over in the penalty area.

What did surprise was that Tutbury thought this angsty stumble while turned away from goal was worthy of a penalty. But there was at least a resounding sense of justice when Melville keeper Max Tommy dived sharply to his left to parry the ball, correctly guessing Bueno would be as predictable with his spot kick direction as he is with his penalty area footing.

So Melville enjoyed a 2-1 half time lead, but were under significantly more pressure in the second half against opponents who almost appealed as Melville Legacy team, with Tyler Lissette (2009-2012), Adam Thomas (2010-2012), Danyon Drake (2012) and Stafford Dowling (2016-2018) starting and being coached by Hoani Edwards (1997-98). And for the really serious anoraks, Jake Mechell (2016) played for the Eastern Suburbs Reserves.

A week earlier Melville regained momentum with their subs.

But this time the bench energy was with Suburbs, and their addition of experienced national league campaigners Alec Solomons at the back and Stephen Hoyle up front eventually paid dividends in the second half because they both played significant parts in turning the match.

They explicitly put the subs into Suburbs as Solomons equalised with a looping far post header and then Hoyle tucked away the winner from close range.

Further, Solomons twice blocked goalbound shots in the final minutes as Jones and Wisnewski chased an equaliser for Melville.

The Suburbs’ goals reflected their second half dominance of possession, playing with the wind. Melville were well pinned back.

Almost unnoticed amid the action was Melville coach Sam Wilkinson copping a yellow card on the bench.

Melville started without Luke Searle, suspended last week, but had Jones back from the suspension he earned in the Chatham Cup final.

Steve Kipchoge was not on the bench for Melville this week, after he tightened a groin in a midweek marathon. But Riku Soejima, Jack Portegys and Legga Legz all got runs in the second half.

Jones was probably best for Melville on the day, while Tommy deserves recognition for his penalty save, possibly his first in Melville colours.

The worry for Melville is they have now conceded seven goals in two outings, and in a short but brutal season it gets no easier for them as they prepare to face joint league leaders Auckland united (2-1 victors over the Western Springs team which beat Eastern Suburbs a week earlier) at Gower Park.

# Melville Reserves lost 4-3. Melville goals came from Ryen Lawrence, Jordan Ditfort, and Jerson Giraldo.

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