It’s hard to know what to write after reading the match report on Melville United’s website from yesterday’s Chatham Cup quarter-final. I certainly can’t hope to beat it, let alone match it, such is the ability behind a keyboard of the one and only Cordwainer Bull.
So what can I do? Well, I have a few pics to offer as well as a movie of what turned out to be Melville’s winning goal (see below). That’ll have to be my point of difference, such that it is.
I’ve watched both these sides a few times this season and, like most people, expected the visitors, Birkenhead United, to win. Not comfortably, but effectively and efficiently, as they’ve done for most of the season. Sure, Melville would go at them hard for the first ten or fifteen minutes, but the visitors’ class would eventually win out.
So much for that theory. Sure, Birkenhead were the most polished side, but where Melville lacked the individual class of their opponents, they more than made up for it with their ferocious desire to win. In hindsight that, ultimately, could be described as the difference between the two sides. But Birko were very unlucky and on another day, with a slight shift in the axis of the planet, the result would have been different.
That is what is so beautiful and frustrating about football. On any given Saturday often the best team, by whatever manner you measure ‘best’, doesn’t win. In cup football that is especially true.
Melville started this match strongly and deserved their early lead. Jama Boss, one of a couple of Melville revelations this season, jinked and jived and crossed to Scott Hilliar, the other revelation, who passed the ball first time into the net. I was right behind the goal so had a good view (and if you know the layout at Melville you’ll know that was, in fact, a great view).
Within a minute Bill Tuiloma had Birko level and you kind of got the feeling that was them back on track and the game would pan out as expected. But Hilliar (and, it must be said, Birko’s keeper) had other ideas as the youngster bent Melville’s second goal in direct from a corner.
That was it as far as the scoring went for the first half, but there were plenty more half and three quarter chances, and the hosts had patches of desperate defending to do at times. It was the most even, yet contrasting, of matches.
Melville’s All White, Aaron Scott, held the ship together, marshalling a sterling effort from his back four, and he had the chance to put his team almost out of reach when his team was awarded a penalty just short of the hour mark. His first shot was saved but a re-take was ordered and he dealt to his second effort.
The visitors didn’t give up. Tuiloma drew them back within one when he neatly dispatched a pull back from Dan Morgan. Not long after substitute, Sam Margetts, crashed the ball into the cross bar. There was also the regulation goal mouth scramble but Melville held on to win 3-2.
Birko will be churning over the what ifs. Did the penalty really deserve to be re-taken? What if Margetts’ shot had been a couple of centimetres lower? Why didn’t we test Melville’s keeper more? As I suggested earlier, it would only have taken a slight difference in the course of events and the result would have been different.
But it wasn’t, and Melville move on. As a Waikato resident I’m hoping for a home draw in the semi-finals for Melville so I get to be part of another occasion like yesterday. Fingers-crossed.
As an aside, I remember running into one of Cordwainer Bull’s alias’, Bruce Holloway (Melville’s chairman), at their cup game at Hibiscus Coast on Queen’s Birthday Monday. At that stage he was fairly ambivalent towards his team’s cup campaign. It was a time of injuries, suspensions and, as now, focus on promotion, that saw him a little annoyed at having to potentially play some extra games. I’m sure he’s viewing the cup slightly differently now, and quite rightly so.
Me too. Because if they’d been knocked out I would never have got to read Melville’s report of this great game.