Soccer: Melville reach Chatham Cup semis

Melville United centre back Gavin Douglas. Photo / Brett Phibbs.
Melville United centre back Gavin Douglas. Photo / Brett Phibbs.

Melville United might just let themselves start believing in their Chatham Cup dream after upsetting Northern Premier League pacesetters Birkenhead United 3-2 in pulsating start to quarterfinal weekend at Hamilton's Gower Park today.

Scott Hilliar twice gave the Northern League first division side the lead inside the opening 20 minutes but his first - after an incisive Jama Boss run - was cancelled out after just a minute with Bill Tuiloma producing a 12th minute equaliser.

Hilliar restored the advantage with a 19th minute inswinging corner that beat everybody but it wasn't until Aaron Scott converted a retaken penalty just shy of the hour mark - after Shane Norton encroached in saving the first attempt - that the 1500 strong Gower Park crowd could really entertain thoughts of reaching the semi finals for the first time since the club lost the final in 2003.

Even then, Tuiloma made sure it was a nervous final 20 minutes when he thumped his second goal to reduce the deficit.

The home side rode their luck under sustained pressure from the North Shore visitors but a crossbar-rattling Sam Margetts shot was as close as they came to forcing extra time as a second yellow card for Birkenhead playmaker Jack Hobson-McVeigh killed their hopes in the dying minutes.

Aaron Scott said scalping the Northern Premier League co-leaders was a positive pointer for the Hamilton hopefuls.

"The cup is always one game at a time. It's just one football field, 90 minutes and 11 men and anything can happen - look at the result we got today," Scott said.

"The team has got a good buzz and we don't start looking all the way. Who knows who we'll get in the semis - we'd love another home game but we may be way down south.

"The belief keeps growing. We've had three good wins against the top teams in our division and now against Birkenhead who are one of the better in the country but we outpassioned them today and once we got our noses ahead we had the belief to hang on."

Tomorrow another second tier side, Palmerston North Marist host Christchurch's Cashmere Technical in a 1pm kickoff while the two 2pm matches feature Waitakere City entertaining Onehunga Sports in Whenuapai and Olympic squaring off against Dunedin's Caversham in the capital.

The winners of this weekend's quarterfinals go into Monday's draw for the August 24 semi finals with the final scheduled for September 15 as the pinnacle of the winter football season.

- APNZ

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