As pre-season games go, it was as pre-season as you can get at Gower Park on Sunday afternoon, as newly promoted Melville United took on reigning LottoNRFL champions Onehunga FC.

The air of positivity around Melville United continues, with a large crowd that would match current ISPS Handa Premiership games, turning up to see the first glimpses of Melville in 2019.

Coaches Sam Wilkinson and Michael Mayne have continued to instil their philosophy of football into the club, while bringing with them a manner of professionalism that would make the casual fan look twice to confirm that this was just a semi-amateur football team in the big city of Hamilton.

There are arguments as to which is the biggest club in Hamilton right now. Hamilton Wanderers contest the country's national league, led by former All Whites coach Ricki Herbert, and last year finished in the top half of the premiership. However, that status is based on application, and not on on-pitch performances.


On Sunday, Melville showed glimpses of the football that will draw crowds, while at the same time they also showed glimpses of what will make casual fans bore.

A 0-0 draw isn't the most enthralling score-line for the neutral, but this is still very much early days in the season.

Melville opened the first half strong in possession, and it was the reds that had the first chance firing just wide of the mark.

Onehunga responded with a counter attack, with midfielder Thomas Boss forcing Melville's goalkeeper Max Tommy into making his first save of the match.

Back at the other end, returning striker Marc Evans looked sharp and picked out Harry Rose, Onehunga goalkeeper Louie Caunter was equal to his shot.

While Melville continued to dominate possession in the first half, it was a loose pass backwards that nearly broke the deadlock with Liam Hayes having to clear off the line.

Marc Evans featuring in 2017 for Melville United. Photo / Grant Stantiall
Marc Evans featuring in 2017 for Melville United. Photo / Grant Stantiall

The division one golden boot winner Jama Boss was able to find some room on the right wing and play the ball back into Mark Jones, but his pass couldn't reach Evans.

The best move on the day came late in the first half, with Marc Evans spraying the ball out wide to fallback Joel McMullan. His cross was a teasing one that Jones managed to connect with via his head, but the effort went wide of the post.


The second and third halves of the game was more of a true pre-season display.

Both sides playing the ball more backwards than forwards, failing to break down each other's defence.

Andrew Milne had an audacious overhead kick saved by Max Tommy, while up the other end Caunter was equal to a Marc Evans effort.

In the dying minutes Tommy pulled off the save off the match, acrobatically keeping an effort out from close range to finish the game at 0-0.

Glimpses of what Melville could be were there, consistency will now be their key as they move closer into their first match of the 2019 season.

Their opponents first up - Hamilton Wanderers.