Melville hold defending champs to a draw

Melville moved off the bottom of the northern premier league table after a late Marc Evans goal secured a 1-1 draw with defending champions Eastern Suburbs.

Melville had fallen behind to a 26th minute free kick from Armin Passagier, which was a reflection of either a brilliant strike, or a shockingly ineptly positioned wall, depending on where you were watching from.

Suburbs find the net with assistance from a dodgy Melville wall.

Suburbs find the net with assistance from a dodgy Melville wall.

Melville’s best first half chance came from a powerful header crashed onto the bar by Jake Mechell.

Melville struck a better rhythm in the second half, and 10 minutes from time Ryan “Red Dragon” Taylor burst down the left and crossed for Evans who smashed it into the net first time from right in front.

“It was a miskick, to be fair,” Evans said, pointing at just above his left foot.

But coach Steve Williams called for more miskicks.

“We did enough to pinch a point and maybe even more at the end,” he said. “We could still move on from here with 12 points up for grabs.”

Late in the game Williams brought 16-year-old Stafford Dowling on for his premier league debut and he had a chance to win the match in stoppage time but his shot went just wide.

Stafford Dowling so nearly scored a stoppage time winner v Suburbs

Stafford Dowling so nearly scored a stoppage time winner v Suburbs

And Stafford Dowling almost earned a penalty, but ref Hayden McCabe said this foul was outside the box

And Stafford Dowling almost earned a penalty, but ref Hayden McCabe said this foul was outside the box

Williams acknowledged another fine performance by skipper Aaron Scott despite an early injury, and the impact of Dowling, but named Jono Viviani as his player of the day. While Viviani did concede the free kick that allowed Suburbs to score past a ridiculous wall, he was generally a good defensive foil in containing Suburbs dangerman Derek Tieku. Besides, Williams added, his was also a magnificent name for a footballer.

“Wouldn’t you rather be called Jono Viviani than Steve Williams?” he asked.

Meanwhile Melville Reserves continued their winning form to remain top of the league with a 1-0 win over Suburbs in the curtainraiser.

Weatherbeaten centreback Tristian Collins, 44, popped up with a second half far post header to seal the game. It was his fifth headed goal of the campaign and a reminder his value extends beyond often marking the pitches midweek.

Tristian Collins leads from the back

Tristian Collins leads from the back

Collins’ game has slowly matured over the past couple of decades, he is now no longer an angry caution-laden young man, and he reads the game well.

“I just sniffed the chance,” he said.

Meanwhile Melville Feds were disappointed to lose 0-2 at home to Papamoa after failing to take their chances.

But Melville Old Boys continued their run in defence of the Waikato Knockout Plate, beating Claudelands Rovers Squatters 1-0. Julian Ford scored the decisive goal with a left foot cross-come-shot in the first half.

The Old Boys always take the plate on tour with them, ready to pass it on to their conquerors should they lose, though would love to hold on to it all the way to the end of the final.

“Ideally we will return it in the same manner we received it from the Federation last year – filthy and late,” said club captain Phil Wheatley, who again failed to impress for the Old Boys.

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