Weekend wrap: Wins galore
All but two of Melville’s senior men’s and women’s teams recorded wins or draws over the opening weekend of WaiBop competitions.
And of the others, Melville Women’s Epics drew 2-2 at home, and there was even a silver lining in the Melville Old Boys losing first up (going down 1-2 away to Unicol ) with veteran Phil Wheatley getting on the scoresheet as reward for an off-season of endeavour, application and serious fitness training.
New faces and old favourites starred as Melville Premier Women made a solid season start in beating Matamata 2-0 at Gower on Sunday
After the usual pre-season wait to see how the league structures would evolve, the Prem women were effectively having their first game playing together after unavailability issues.
There were a few debutantes for Melville. Hannah Buesnel, (formerly Cambridge) was solid in midfield before slotting into a the back three in the second half, while twin magicians Emma and Jessica Sizer, (formerly Wanderers) looked to settle about their work nicely in the middle of the park as well.
Keeper Brittany King (formerly Claudelands) pulled off a couple of saves during the game and was happy with a clean sheet.
Bailey Guilford and Johnelle Wereta, promoted from the Epics & Development teams respectively, also settled in well.
Melville were dominant in the first 10 minutes, giving both Wereta and Isla Allen plenty of work down the flanks.
First goal came from an opposition error when a misdirected goal kick fell to the feet of Guilford who took her shot nicely to get the ball over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net.
The goal settled Melville down, as they went about their work trying to get through on goal against a Swifts side determined to not concede.
Swifts only chances came from set pieces with one particular effort seeing the opposition striker poke the ball past the keeper before centre back Dion Henley scampered back to clear the ball off the goal line via the upright. This never-say-die attitude from the youngster seemed to fire the side back up into gear with Swifts not seeing our goal box again till the end of the game.
Natasha Murrihy-Paulussen made her debut when she entered the midfield at half-time and helped to solidify the passing game. The second half was more settled with Melville happy to pass the ball around and try to deconstruct the opposition’s tight defence. A few half chances were unlucky not to go in with Clare Mackintosh and Emma Sizer both hitting the woodwork a few seconds apart before Clare was fouled in the box with 10 to go. She stepped up coolly to finish into the top right before Melville saw out the game by passing around.
Coach Laichyn Parkinson called it a solid outing first up and a good foundation for the rest of the season.
TDO player of the day went to Jessica Mackintosh who was fantastic with organizing the back 3 while also adding to the attack when needed. New Delhi Managers Player was Johnelle Wereta with her work up and down the right flank both in defense and attack being outstanding throughout the game.
On Sunday Melville Premiers play Claudelands Rovers at Gower Park.
Melville Women’s Development beat Wanderers Classics 3-0 away.
Melville Feds have re-badged themselves as Melville U23 Reserves this year – which equates to the Fountain of Youth for recalled Subesh Naidu – and they started with a 4-3 away win against Tauranga Boys College, which was a real goal-fest on the compact Southey Park.
Nobody is saying the pitch is undersize, but you have to take your corners from the neighbours’ patio.
The Melville Feds have a very different look to last year. The continued growth in professionalism at the club has seen a number of new players join, though pre-season has come at a cost with midfielder Sam Masterson – freshly transferred from Matamata – ruptured his ACL and is now out for the rest of the season. (Thank you for being water boy during your rehabilitation, Sam).
The game itself was a close affair and Melville were slow starters, with early season nerves on display.
Tauranga Boys opened the scoring with the ball hitting a Melville player on the head, the cross bar and back out into the field. It was adjudged a goal by the young linesman who clearly had a better view than the Melville coaches.
Melville fought back and a minute later a training field moves saw the ball end up in the back of the net bundled in by a Tauranga player desperate to defend the goal line. Had he missed it, Hamish Utteridge advises everyone he would have scored anyway.
Right on half time former Tauranga Boys’ player Harry Coulson was on hand to head in a fantastic cross to make it 2-1 to Melville.
But while Melville were ahead on the scoreboard at half time, the feeling was that Tauranga had shaded possession.
The second half started like the first and the game was relatively even.
However this time Melville dealt with the quick press a lot better. In the 53rd minute goal-line pressure from Raukawa Raynel and Utteridge saw Tauranga bundle yet another ball in the back of their own net.
“Nice to have a buffer,” mused Melville coach Merv Williams.
But it only took three minutes however for some woeful Melville defending resulting in Tauranga clawing one back to make it 2-3 and the nerves on the sideline we clear to see.
In the 65th minute Jordi Ditfort collected the ball near half way and beat several defenders to score a cracking goal to make it 4-2 to Melville.
To their credit Tauranga Boys worked hard and continued to create opportunities of their own without any clear chances till the 89th minute when they scored their third and last goal. The match was as close as the 4-3 scoreline suggested.
This is a competitive Tauranga Boys squad that will create problems for a number of teams in the league with their skill and athletic ability.
For Melville there is plenty to work on – and also plenty to like.
The Feds (U23s) are at home to Wanderers on Gower Park No 1 on Saturday (2.45pm) against a Wanderers team no doubt wanting to bounce back from their big defeat at the hands of Papamoa.
Melville Nobs began the weekend with a Friday night 3-0 win over Waikato Unicol under lights on Gower 2. Kieran Frewen gave Melville an early lead and Justin Harden (real name) made it 2-0 before half time with a powerful header.
Feature of the night match was the most crowded benches ever seen at Gower Park. The Nobs did not have all their 24 players on deck, but still had about 10 subs milling about, while Unicol had an even more populated technical area as students obviously mistook the flash dugouts as a spectator stand.
Retired Ngaruawahia police commissioner Neil Mouncher played in goal for the Nobs and not only kept a clean sheet, but kept general abuse of team mates to a minimum – an amazing opening night double.
It prompted profound terrace discussion and debate:
– Are we looking at Melville’s best goalkeeper out there tonight?
– Yeah… Greg Hobson (playing in midfield).
Mighty Melville Bs – essentially last year’s D Division winners – made a fine start with a 4-1 home win over West Hamilton.
New coach Arran Clement said the focus was to be competitive, and one match in, he is already sounding like Steve Hansen.
“We have set up a leadership structure within the team and are promoting that,” he said. “Our effort is the most important attribute the team needs to succeed.”
On the strength of their opening match, their second most important attribute is striker Cree O’Donahue, who scored all four goals.
The Bs favour a 3-5-2 formation – or a 5-3-2 depending on how you look at it – and then just get Cree to score.
“In the later stages of the game the team lost some focus an allowed a goal in – something we’ll be discussing this week at training,” Clement-Hansen said.
But the real stars of the B Division – and the opening day in general – were the previously unfashionable Melville B2s.
They beat St Paul’s Corinthians 8-2 – and on the strength of such an attacking result, have now been officially renamed as the Melville B52s.
The new-look B52s Bombers turned up at St Paul’s unsure of what to expect.
Suggestions were they would be facing a good team, with a former All White Mike Groom as player-coach and some players from Federation level last year.
Tension grew pitch-side when the B52s were then told it was actually the St Paul’s First XI – and they were discreetly being coached by Melville’s own Sam Wilkinson.
Surely that spelt trouble, given that the B52s consist of a few of older heads from last year’s C team, a few of younger lads from last year’s B team, and some new school boys and school leavers.
Ominously, 10 minutes in, a bad pass, a catch and dropped ball by the keeper, and St Paul’s went 1-0 up.
But this was followed by some superb team-work, a little bit of magic, and some quite spectacular goals as the B52s came of age as a team.
The B52s led 4-1 at the break, and stayed on task and humble throughout to and finished victors 8-2.
Cambodian-born 20-year-old Chin Chhoung was the individual star, scoring 4 goals.
“It was a dream start for a new team after a long pre-season,” said co-coach Tony Schischka. “West Ham are next, then down the line we will see just how ‘mighty’ that other Melville team actually is.”
Melville Ds lost 2-1 to Tokoroa.