Melville beat the champs
ABOVE: Eric “Jones” displays his fancy footwork against Central United. PHOTO: Marc McMullan. More photos at marcmcmullanphotography.pixieset.com
Melville gave a hint of their potential when they beat reigning northern premier league champions Central United 3-1 in a pre-season fixture at Gower Park.
Both teams were missing players who would expect to be starting in the season proper, but Melville can take heart from an encouraging showing – at a time of year when so often in the past they have been rubbish.
“We have to remember it’s only preseason,” said co-coach Sam Wilkinson. “I was pleased with the performance more than the result. We are starting to see things coming through on the pitch that we have been working hard on in training.
“It was a good test against a strong opponent and it was pleasing to see the work we’ve been doing stand up in a quicker-paced game.”
Newly-arrived Welshman Patrick Hinchcliffe opened the scoring with a crisp far post header from a Lachie McIsaac cross.
McIsaac, a former Birkenhead youth player, then added a second immediately after half time. While his shot took a deflection, he believed it was going in anyway.
But all the Melville players were upstaged by actor Eric “Jones”, who conjured up a brilliant solo goal.
“Jones’s” footwork was more complex than Chinese algebra as he shuffled past four Central defenders to score from inside the area.
Midfielder George Curry then debuted in the second half to quickly suggest he could well be Melville’s most influential player this season.
Imran Shah scored a consolation goal for Central United, while Marc Evans just missed with an impudent chip that cleared the bar at the death.
Melville head to Tauranga next weekend for two games, and on Saturday March 18 play Glenfield Rovers at home at 12 noon.
# Gower No 1 is due to overhauled under an autumn renovation from Monday March 6. While the pitch looks immaculate, upon his return from eye surgery this week, Melville club captain Phil Wheatley reported that the very dense sward of grass also caused significant problems.
“While this can look great and be nice for us touch-sensitive footballers to play on, it also compromises the turf quality by making the sand carpet profile very hydrophobic,” Wheatley said. “That in turn raises the chance of disease entering the field.
“So for the first time in Gower Park history, we’re renovating in order to get less grass on the pitch. Football can be like that sometimes.”