Melville’s cup dreams live on
Melville are through to the final 64 of the Chatham Cup – if that is a thing – after beating fellow northern league division one team Ellerslie 3-1 away.
To put this success in a broader context, it was the first time any members of the current squad apart from skipper Aaron Scott and defender Luke Searle had played in a Chatham Cup match-winning Melville team. That was after very early exits in 2016 and 2015.
They did so in an interesting new Melville strip (which the referee approved for use despite suggestions from some quarters that red and white clashed with Ellerslie’s red, gold and black) and an unfamiliar artificial surface at Michaels Ave, and an hour later than they were expecting, after a discrepancy in kick-off times between what NZ Football was advising (it’s their comp) and what Auckland Football was scheduling.
Nuggetty midfielder Liam Hayes gave Melville the early lead with a stunning drive but Ellerslie struck back before half time with an equaliser from Andy Wallace.
Stafford Dowling re-established the lead midway through the second half, after fine work down the left flank from Lachie McIsaac and George Curry. The speedy Dowling was later named player of the day.
And a curious third goal came just before the final whistle. Sub Patrick Hinchcliffe made a surging run from about 5 metres inside his own half, and as space opened up in front of his he kept running, eventually going around the goalkeeper only to hit the post. It was the miss of the season, but fellow sub Salah Bahiss was on hand to tap home the rebound for his first Melville goal.
But it was not a day for Melville’s Golden Boot leader Marc Evans, who failed to convert an excellent headed chance and later went off suffering from severe chafing from his new shorts.
Melville are at home to Manukau City on Saturday, in a critical northern league match.