Melville Reserves edging closer to league title – first team not so much

Melville Reserves still need three points to be absolutely certain of clinching the Northern Premier Reserves league title, heading into Saturday’s away match against second-placed Western Springs.

The Ressies staged a dramatic comeback to draw 3-3 away with fourth-placed Onehunga on Saturday to now be six points clear of Western Springs, with two games to play and a superior goal difference of 18.

But third-placed Wanderers have benefited from points reversals due to ineligible players and are just 10 points behind with two games in hand. So with Wanderers still having 12 points up for grabs approaching this weekend, they could theoretically still topple Melville. The teams Wanderers are still to face are Central, Tauranga, Glenfield and Birkenhead: four of the five bottom teams in the league, while Melville’s remaining fixture after Saturday will be at home to Birkenhead (date still to be confirmed).

So a win over Western Springs – on turf at 3pm at Seddon Fields, Auckland – would be most welcome.

Melville Reserves dominated the first 30 minutes against Onehunga and Michael Cosgrave scored in the 16th minute to put them 1-0 up.

Onehunga equalised through a penalty at the end of the first half, after a keeper error and then went ahead with the assistance of a dodgy back pass. There was frustration on the bench when a third defensive gaffe allowed Onehunga a 3-1 lead.

But three substitutions paid off, with two of them then scoring. “Larry” Grayson Sutcliffe netted in the 78th minute and then Jordyn McKay in the 89th as Melville pressed hard.

A patchy performance against 3rd on the table who are now 10 points behind with 3 games remaining, a draw was enough for us to take them and Western Springs out of the picture as we have an 18 Goal better Goal difference then Springs.

# Melville’s premier league team led early then staged a great fightback to level at 3-3 against Onehunga – only to get stitched up by a ropey 93rd minute penalty. Stafford Dowling, 16, scored his maiden northern premier league goal in his second start at that level, while Marc Evans scored two within the space of two minutes in the second half.

# Melville have been drawn at home to Wanderers in the semifinals of the Northern Reserves Knockout Cup, with a date yet to be set.

# Melville women’s Federation team are playing Northern United at 6.30pm on Gower No 2 under lights on Friday (August 26).

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