Loss puts the pressure on
Melville’s first northern premier league home game in over a month on Saturday will take on more importance after a 3-1 away loss to second-placed Western Springs.
Melville host East Coast Bays, who currently hold down one of the relegation berths, and are nine points adrift.
It was Melville’s first away loss since April but means the Unicorns have dropped to eighth place with seven matches remaining, after Birkenhead jumped a point ahead with a 3-0 win over Wanderers Sports Club.
History shows that in a 12-team premier league you usually need 22 points to be safe from relegation. Melville are currently on 19, with the clubs below them being Manukau (17), Glenfield (17), East Coast Bays (10) and Waitakere City (*9).
Waitakere’s position is complicated by them last week being docked four points because coach Paul Rhodes did not have the prescribed C licence coaching qualification. That docking was unprecedented in New Zealand club football – a club having points removed for an off-field transgression from matches it had already lost. In the circumstances it would be astonishing if no appeal is lodged, and if the appeal was successful they would return to 13 points, just six behind Melville and with 21 points still up for grabs.
In the Western Springs match, under lights on artificial turf, Wellington Phoenix trialist and 2018 All White Myer Bevan gave the home team a 28th minute lead and Scott Midgely added a 49th minute free kick.
Craig Pritchard pulled back a goal in the 79th minute, but from the kick-off Springs scored their third through Brad Wilson. The win left Springs three points adrift of leaders North Shore.
Melville were without Josh Davies (suspended), Luke Searle, Mark Jones, and Logan Wiznewski – as well as co-coach Michael Mayne.