Melville up for a semi
Melville will be taking a strong squad north for their Chatham Cup semifinal against Bay Olympic (at Olympic Park, 2pm Saturday August 24).
Midfielder Liam Steffert will be out with glandular fever, though otherwise all the usual suspects will be on deck for Melville, including the club’s greatest goalscorer, Marc Evans, and star playmaker Craig Pritchard.
Melville will likely start with their usual back three of Flynn O’Brien, Aaron Scott and Luke Searle in front of keeper Max Tommy, midfielder Mark Jones, Federico Marquez, Liam Hayes, Logan Wisnewski, and Pritchard, with Evans and Josh Davies up front.
Melville co-coach Sam Wilkinson is expecting a tough challenge from Bay Olympic, who are top of northern league division one.
“They have some national league-quality players and have been on a very good cup run,” Wilkinson said.
“Combine that with what we know will be a very vocal and boisterous crowd and it will be a good contest. We back ourselves if we are at our best but are under no illusions we will need to be at the top of our game to do so.
“We are very conscious that it is axiomatic of cup semifinals that the wrong team often wins.”
Indeed, Wilkinson has vivid memories of 2003 when he was a wiry little midfielder in the Melville team which upset Central United away in the semis to make the Chatham Cup final.
“It was a great day, and in many ways was more memorable than the final because it was such a positive result.
“When you get a result these are the memories that stay with you for the rest of your life. I still share those memories with friends who were there.
“But this time we want it to be a little bit different for Melville. In 2019 we want the strongest memories to be of winning the cup final, rather than a semifinal. That is the aim.”
Wilkinson had no view on the other semi between Onehunga Sports and Napier City Rovers on Sunday.
“Our focus is exclusively on getting past a semi,” he said.
# Melville will play Birkenhead United at Papakura under lights at 7pm on Tuesday and then face Central United at home on Saturday August 31 to end their northern premier league campaign.
Melville are fourth in the league, six points behind leaders Onehunga Sports. Western Springs missed a chance to go top when beaten 2-0 by Manukau City midweek.