Melville notch a preseason win

Melville’s northern premier league pre-season continued to take shape with a 2-1 win over Northern Rovers (formerly Glenfield Rovers and Forrest Hill Milford) at Gower Park.

While Rovers were far from being full strength, it was a useful outing for Melville, who came from behind for the win, in a match played over three 30-minute spells, which allowed both coaches to rotate the overly large squads you get at this time of year.

The win should not be undervalued. Melville statistician Ron Positive noted Gower Park is the venue where the Unicorns have registered their worst record in the northern league in recent times. In last winter’s truncated season Melville recorded just one win, and in 2019 scraped a troubling four wins from 11 home league matches.

The difficulty of playing at Gower was evidenced again when Melville fell behind to an early goal, following a nice set-up by Rovers player-coach Dicko Dickinson.

The returning Jama Boss – Melville’s pivotal striker – had a glorious chance to equalise but the roll of the ball on the predictable Gower surface caught him by surprise and he skied it onto Kahikatea Drive from point blank.

Melville finally levelled in the second spell with an excellent finish. Boss worked his way across the pitch and fed teenager Ryen Lawrence, who cut in the from the right and stroked the ball into the net off the post for an accomplished goal.

A composed finish like this was exactly what Melville needed.

Lawrence (pictured above scoring his goal) had the ball in the net a second time with a nice lob but it was ruled offside by linesman Ceri James. It was a timely reminder that this is pre-season for the officials as well.

The winner came shortly afterwards when sub Moh Reynolds stroked the ball home from about 6m. Some credit for the goal needs to go to sub Le Bon Bulumba, who is looking to break back into the Melville squad after two previous spells. Bulamba, of indeterminate age, first played for Melville in 2012. In his second spell he left Melville six games into the 2018 season – after which the Unicorns then embarked on a surging 14-match winning run which ultimately secured them the northern league division one title.

Melville looked better balanced for having Liam Hayes back on deck, while Quinton Kipara turned in an energetic midfield display off the bench.

Melville are away to Bay Olympic on Saturday.

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