Cup final here we come
Super Melville cemented a berth in the 2019 Chatham Cup final with a gritty 2-0 away semifinal win over promoted Bay Olympic.
In front of a good-sized crowd, including an enthusiastic chunk of travelling supporters and Melville players of yesteryear, the Unicorns did just enough to end Bay Olympic’s 20-match unbeaten run and make the cup final for the first time since 2003.
The tie was far from being a classic. A strong wind blowing up the pitch made it difficult for both teams, and from a purist’s perspective this was arguably one of Melville’s least compelling performances of the year, with relatively little flow.
But the lads got the job done, firstly through Logan Wisnewski, who tapped home at the far post in the 22nd minute. Melville attacked down the right flank and Mark Jones crossed for Marc Evans to half hit a shot which rebounded for Wisnewski to finish.
It gave Melville a vital lead in enjoying the wind in the first half.
Melville came under sustained pressure in the second half and Bay Olympic had a number of chances to equalise, hitting the bar twice, and smashing shots high, while Max Tommy made a couple of fine saves.
Unlikely hero for Melville was Harry Christensen-Rose, who came on early in the second half to replace injured Federico Marquez. In the 80th minute he got forward and after a Craig Pritchard dribble broke down, the ball fell to him to stab home a left-footer from inside the area.
It was Christensen-Rose’s first credited goal of the season. (He scored against Claudelands Rovers in the opening round of the Cup but somehow the match officials attributed the goal to Wisnewski.)
“It wasn’t our best performance,” said Melville co-coach Sam Wilkinson. “It was a bit nervy but we had to go for broke.
“A lot of the boys have been with us for three years now and have learned how to manage games in difficult conditions, and that stood us in good stead today.”
Wilkinson praised the efforts of Tommy in goal, and skipper Aaron Scott but named Christensen-Rose as his player of the day.
Bay Olympic coach Paul Marshall acknowledged Melville had the ascendancy for most of the afternoon.
“I hope you go and win the cup final now,” he said.
The final will be played at North Harbour Stadium at 3pm on Sunday September 8.
# Melville face Birkenhead United at Papakura at 7pm on Tuesday, then Central United at home on Saturday, 3pm. A number of Melville players will be placed in cotton wool for these matches however.
# Melville Nobs won the Waikato Cup final at Cambridge, beating Huntly Thistle 1-0 thanks to a header from Gavin Douglas.
# Mighty Melville Bs have won Waikato Division 2 for 2019.