That’s better, Melville!
Melville improved their chances of northern premier league survival with a tenacious 2-1 home win over Western Springs.
On a day when there were plenty of draws, Melville’s three points has left the bottom of the table looking like this:
In an entertaining fast-paced match there were plenty of heroes for Melville, starting with Jake Mechell, who potted his sixth league goal of the season in securing a 40th minute lead.
A goal seemed inevitable from the moment speedy left back, Ryan “Red Dragon” Taylor sprung the Springs defence to go around the keeper. But just as we were marking down Dragon’s first goal for Melville he veered wildly off course towards the corner, an occupational hazard from travelling at the speed of light. Fortunately he was able to recover and pull the ball back for Mechell, who thundered it into the net from about 8 metres.
It was deserved reward for Mechell. Indeed, spectators could be excused for thinking the name was Jake Machine rather than Jake Mechell, so much ground did he cover in another high energy, composed performance as targetman, in which he kept experienced Springs central defenders Brian Shelley and Maurie Wasi very busy.
Satisfaction at having established a lead was quickly undone when Springs levelled right on half time through Myer Bevan, after a cross from the dangerous Nicolai Berry.
But key moment in the match came midway through the second spell when Jordan “The Tractor” MacCarter ploughed into the penalty area and confidently dinked home a critical goal. MacCarter had earlier hit the post in another second half foray.
His delight was topped by his parents having travelled from Wales to watch the match.
“I can see why you call him ‘The Tractor’,” said his Dad, Ian “Steamroller” MacCarter.
Springs pressed hard for an equaliser, and while they created some good chances, Melville’s defence had one of its better days, with skipper Aaron Scott in top form. He was nicely complemented by new signing Johnny Fletcher at centre back. Fletcher has returned from four years at Merrimack University in Boston and is now living in Raglan. Fletcher is the son of former New Plymouth national league stopper John Fletcher and nephew of Darren Fletcher, who assisted Waikato United to the Superclub Championship grand final exactly 20 years ago.
Melville coach Steve Williams singled out schoolboy Liam Steffert for a special praise in his aftermatch speech.
“He is a special, special, special young player,” he emphasised, primarily for the benefit of Western Springs coach Neil Emblen, who is also New Zealand’s U-20 assistant coach.
Williams had made the call not to start another 17-year-old in Lachie McIsaac, given that his left leg was bandaged up like an Egyptian mummy, and Steffert instead showed his wares with a Ryan Thomas-like performance in midfield, full of deft touches and clever passes.
Steffert has a will-o-the-wisp build and weighs less than some of the pails of paint Williams deals with midweek. Indeed, the club chairman has requested that Steffert be excused midweek training in favour of being sent to The Dinsdale Office for a good feed of steak and chips. But despite his marginal physique, he is a delight to watch on the ball, and along with Machine and McIsaac, is emerging as an important young footballing talent.
Williams also acknowledged the surprise recall of veteran Josh Billman from Melville Old Boys to bolster the midfield. “It’s not easy for Josh at 42, and with five kids under eight, but he came in and played an important role,” Williams said.
Meanwhile Emblen said Springs had the better individual players and played better football, “but you wanted it more than us and were more committed”.
He praised the Gower Park pitch. “When we last came to Hamilton and played Wanderers the surface was very good, but this is a step up again.”
* Melville are at home to Mt Albert Ponsonby in the Chatham Cup at 2pm on Monday.
HOT TOP KNOT POT SHOTS STOP ROT
Melville Reserves stayed top of the Northern Premier Reserve League with a stirring 3-2 win against Western Springs in which they twice came from behind and scored the winner in stoppage time with just 10 men on the pitch, thanks to top-knotted super-sub Jordan McKay.
Melville trailled 0-1 at half time, but drew level through a crisp strike from Flynn O’Brien. Springs regains the lead but McKay entered the contest in the final 15 minutes and immediately curled home a beautiful free kick to level.
Melville’s prospects were dented when Devon Williams was red-carded for a bad tackle, but McKay poached a further goal as the Ressies once again showed great team character to get over the line.
* Melville Reserves are away to East Coast Bays in the Reserves Cup on Monday.
Melville Feds continued their good form with a 3-0 away win over Katikati, thanks to second half goals from Dylan Blair, Mahmood Alfarraji, Mohammed Kakai, and have now risen to second place on the table. It’s great reward for the enigmatic Neil Mouncher, a coach whispered to neither cast a shadow nor a reflection in the mirror.
Melville Old Boys got home 3-2 against Eastern City, in a match where club-based referee Dave Cowley had his hands full with interfering away supporters.
Melville Bs drew 1-1 at home to Ngaruawahia, and Melville Ds enjoyed an epic 4-3 away win over Te Awamutu.