Patched-up Pirates do coach proud
Marlborough's two teams in the Top of the South senior football league ended up on different sides of the same scoreline on Saturday.
In Blenheim, Central Pirates went down 2-3 to Nelson Suburbs 1st XV while the Marlborough Development side won 3-2 against Richmond at Jubilee Park, Nelson.
Pirates were more than competitive in their match at A&P Park, leaving coach Paul Finnegan feeling that they "should have got something out of it".
It started well for the home side, who opened the scoring after 15 minutes. A sloppy back pass from Suburbs was pounced on by left winger Aaron Hayes, who slid a delightful ball through for the prolific Shane Evans to score. Their advantage was shortlived, however, as Suburbs benefited from a goalkeeping error by Pirates custodian Regan Chambers, who misjudged a cross which ended up in his own net.
Although Pirates came out in the second spell with more purpose, it was the visitors who took the lead after 15 minutes.
Striker Wesley Olea found himself in space and produced a delightful finish which found the top corner.
Pirates pushed forward in search of an equaliser but were caught out again when second half substitute Isaac Cunningham picked up the ball on the right, cut in towards goal and beat Chambers, making the score 3-1 with 15 minutes to go.
Referee Cyril Dawson threw Pirates a lifeline just minutes later when he awarded a penalty for hand ball which Brendan Lang coolly converted.
With 10 minutes to go it was game on, Pirates pushing forward in search of an equaliser and Suburbs hoping to catch the home side on the break. Despite some end-to-end football and plenty of endeavour, Pirates were unable to find another goal, but coach Finnegan was happy with his side's efforts.
"I couldn't fault any of our players," he said. "They were all excellent."
He was especially pleased with some of the newer recruits.
Usual starters Khalid Suleiman, Matt Goldsworthy and Gregg Slatter were absent, resulting in a call-up for Central's Matthew Stretch who had a fine match at centre back, and Trent Burbidge stepped up well.
"Although we had some players away we still had plenty of quality, but we had to play some guys out of position," said Finnegan.
"The pace was a lot quicker than what we had been used to. I thought Ben Blackman and Brendan Lang dominated in midfield. Their work rate was very high. Aaron [Hayes] was his usual tidy self while Shane [Evans] gave 100 per cent."
Suburbs coach Cary Hamson described the game as scrappy, but "both sides tried to play a bit of football. It was an entertaining match".
His best were veteran midfielder Nathan Jefferies and goalkeeper Simon Capenhurst, who played the second half with a quad injury but made a couple of fine saves.
The news was much better for Marlborough in Nelson.
In a performance that coach Wolfie Waechter described as "better than expected", the Development side fought back from a 1-2 deficit to grab the winner with less than five minutes to go.
The Development team began well and went ahead after 15 minutes when new recruit Cedric Senkel took full advantage of indecision in the Richmond area after a cross, slamming the ball home with his left foot.
On the stroke of halftime, the youthful home side drew level. Development's defence were unable to deal with a corner allowing Richmond's Joseph Gregan to tap in from close range.
Rather than being deflated by the late equaliser, Development came out for the second spell in a positive fashion but were rocked by a second Richmond goal after just a few minutes.
With Development caught on the break, Gregan was left with just keeper Michael Ruffell to beat, which he did expertly. But none of the visiting side dropped their heads and with 20 minutes to go, Development grabbed the equaliser.
Omar Guardiola, returning from a three week stand-down, picked the ball up in midfield and beat three or four defenders before finding Dylan Tempero, a second-half sub.
Tempero beat his marker before squaring the ball to skipper Taine Swete who planted it past the keeper.
The deciding goal came with just four minutes to go. A Development through ball was partially blocked by a defender but fell to Guardiola's feet and the diminutive striker didn't hestitate, smashing home the winner from 8 metres.
Waechter was full of praise for his charges. "We were under a bit of pressure in the last quarter but the boys gutsed it out. I am proud of the way they stood up, they fought for everyone else and did their job."
While Waechter spoke of a team effort, he was able to single out a couple of players.
"Omar [Guardiola] was incredibly good today," he said. "He draws several defenders all the time. He had a big impact on the game in a positive way."
Winners in the local division one competition were Blenheim Valley Masters, who prevailed 4-2 over Biddy Kates Rangers, and Rangers Saints who beat BV Titans by the same score.
In division 2A Clubs of Marlborough Rangers and Rangers Masters drew 1-1 and BV Cobras downed Pumprite Trojans 7-1.
Division 2B winners were Trojan Masters, 2-1 over Picton Seniors, and Picton Pumas and Rangers United drew 3-3.
AT A GLANCE
Top of the South league
Nelson Suburbs 1st XV 3 (Ben Hamson, Wesley Olea, Isaac Cunningham) Central Pirates 2 (Shane Evans, Brendan Lang)
Marlborough Development 3 (Cedric Senkel, Taine Swete, Omar Guardiola) Richmond FC 2 (Joseph Gregan)
FC Nelson 1 Nelson College 0
Blenheim Valley Masters 4 (G Gulliver, I Allen, D Campbell, P O'Donnell) Biddy Kates Rangers 2 (M McCormick, P Archer);
Rangers Saints 4 (T Lichtnecker, L Pham, G Bond, K Sullivan) BV Titans 3 (C Skinner 2, S Barnes).
Clubs of Marlborough Rangers 1 (S Potter) Rangers Masters 1 (S Benjamin);
BV Cobras 7 (J Tautari 2, N Kerry, C Lang 2, B Benjamin, J Joyce) Pumprite Trojans 1 (M Green).
Trojan Masters 2 Picton Seniors 1;
Picton Pumas 3 (J Thorp, S Kamiyama) Rangers United 3 (M Danvers 2, S Pearson).
The Marlborough Express