Melville bundle Suburbs out of the Cup

Marc “Hitman” Evans scored his fifth hat trick of the season as super Melville charged into the final 32 of the 2017 Chatham Cup with a 4-1 home win over six-times winners Eastern Suburbs.

It was a real tonic for Melville, who were shattered by only drawing with Waitemata in the league on Saturday.

For Suburbs, who most recently won the cup in 2015, and have made the final on three other occasions apart from their wins, it means they must concentrate on the premier league for the rest of the season.

It was the first time Melville have ever beaten Suburbs in the cup after losses at Gower in 2007 and 2012.

Melville reshuffled their lineup significantly from Saturday. Four non-starters from the Waitemata match were shipped in, with Flynn O’Brien and Luke Searle starting at centre back (with Aaron Scott shovelled into midfield). Lachie McIsaac started ahead of Eric “Jones” down the left, and fellow teen Liam Steffert got the nod in midfield, while Robbie Greenhalgh came off the bench midway through the second half.

Evans scored early with a precision shot from a left-sided attack, and Stafford Dowling made it 2-0 after 17 minutes, capitalising on a clever scoop from Liam Hayes and energetic work from Bailey Webster.

Teenager Stafford Dowling has now scored eight goals this season

Teenager Stafford Dowling has now scored eight goals this season

Suburbs pulled a goal back five minutes into the second half through Derek Tieku but Evans quickly grabbed his second, then potted a late penalty.

“I’m not a stats sort of guy, but that’s 52 goals from 51 appearances for Melville,” Evans said.

It also took his goal haul for 2017 alone to a whopping 25 goals, something that has not escaped interest back in Wales.

But afterwards Evans was mildly irritated that Melville supporters were far more interested in quizzing him about an extraordinary second half miss.

At 3-1 up, Evans diddled the keeper, chopped inside a defender – and with the goal at his mercy, shot wide from 3 metres.

“How come you didn’t hit the post?” they asked.

“Tough crowd,” Evans responded. “You score a hat trick to beat higher-ranked opponents in the cup and all your mates want to do is talk about the one you missed.

“It’s like winning Lotto first division and having everybody keen to know more about your losing lines.”

Evans attributed his fine form to a special recovery programme he undertook at a Raglan retreat on Saturday night.

Suburbs coach Hoani Edwards (Melville player 1997-98) praised Melville’s disciplined approach when in front, and the liveliness of their younger players.

Melville co-coach Sam Wilkinson was delighted.

“The Cup has lifted our spirits after the draw on Saturday,” he said. “We were up for it today. It has returned the feelgood factor to the club.”

Webster was named player of the day, with a nod to the efforts of Searle and O’Brien at the back.

Melville are at home to Franklin on Saturday. The next round of the Cup is on June 24.

# Melville Reserves lost 3-2 at home to Ellerslie in their knockout after leading 2-1 with great goals from Jake Bayliss and Matt Shaw.

Thomas Mouncher was sent off for two yellow cards, which assisted Ellerslie’s comeback.

# Melville’s interesting new home strip (red and white hoops) continues to be an intense subject of discussion. On Monday one of the club’s sponsors offered to buy the current first team strip in order to retire it. What do club members think? Have your say at the Melville forum. www.melvilleunited.co.nz/forum

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