Sam is the Man: Silky Wilky scores for Nobs

Sam Wilkinson has been looking for a goalscorer all season – and now he has found one.

The thing is, it was the Melville first team coach himself who popped up with a critical goal as Melville Nobs beat Matamata Swifts 2-1 away to move to within one point of the lead in Waikato Div 1, with a game in hand.

And with his 2017-19 coaching partner and brother in law Michael Mayne then nabbing a late winner at Matamata Domain, there was plenty to celebrate – and to ponder about the best use of resources for the rest of the season.

Wilkinson, 29, has struggled for game time given his first team coaching duties, lengthy suspensions, and a cruel reluctance of some of his former first-team buddies to embrace him as a Nob, after his controversial transfer to Tauranga City 16 years ago.

In what was his first outing of the season, and his first game for 12 months, Wilkinson was humble in victory.

“The kumera does not boast of its own sweetness,” he said. “I’m just pleased for the lads. They’ve worked hard, I’ve come in and added a few of the finer touches, and we’ve all gone home happy.

“Obviously I don’t want to make too much of a fuss about my goal, or find myself under increasing pressure to be a saviour every week, but it’s nice to think you’ve still got this stuff in your locker.”

Wilkinson bossed the midfield with some polished touches his feet somehow seeming to hover just inches above the turf.

His goal put Melville ahead midway through the second half, from a free kick wide-ish outside the area.

“I’d come to realise that Gav Douglas is not the force in the air that he once was, and figured if I could just zing the ball goalwards at the far post we’ve probably got a better chance of scoring than thinking Gav could get a head on it. I didn’t miss.”

He also praised Mayne, 40, now a regular goalscorer for the Nobs, who once again came to the party with a 90th minute winner.

“His legs had gone after six minutes, and his hold-up play could have been better – and I’m thinking he’s a 5.5 out of 10, but then he’s come up with the decisive moment.”

Mayne received the ball with his back to goal, ignored an opportunity to set up Wilkinson and swivelled and hit a right-footer which took a tiny deflection and into the top right of the net.

“He took his goal well, but even beyond that, it was just great to finally see Mayney get through 90 minutes. I don’t think I’ve seen that since I returned from the UK in 2016.”

MAYNE MAN: Sam Wilkinson was quick to celebrate Michael Mayne’s late winner against Matamata. PHOTO: Marc McMullan

Wilkinson refused to be drawn of the efforts of Nobs player-coach Douglas, who mangled a number of chances to put the game to bed.

“It would be unfair to publicly criticise a team mate,” Wilkinson said. “We can talk about his performance in private midweek.”

Nobs, the club’s top mean’s team with the northern league sides out of action, are at home to Waihi next week. But with Covid restrictions still likely, the club will have to limit the number of paying punters turning up to see Wilkinson in action.

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