Melville into last eight of Chatham Cup
Melville United might prefer facing top-drawer opposition in the quarterfinals of the Chatham Cup.
The Hamilton side, which made the semifinals of the prestigious knockout tournament last year, battled their way into the last eight with a 2-1 away victory over WaiBop Federation League team Ngongotaha AFC today.
As heavy favourites, the Northern League Division One club made heavy weather of their win despite dictating terms of the majority of the encounter played in ideal conditions but on a bumpy surface.
Jevon Williams put them ahead 20 minutes in with a composed left-foot finish after the hosts failed to clear a long throw-in, but the visitors failed to capitalise on the weight of possession when they had a chance to knock the stuffing from the spirited underdogs.
Callum Warner denied Williams a second just a minute later with a superbly-timed last-ditch tackle and Williams then hit the crossbar within 30 seconds with an overhead kick.
Paul Clout and Nathan Canton also had efforts strike the woodwork to leave them just a goal ahead at halftime, and Nongotaha struck four minutes after the restart as Harlem Simona got past the square Melville defence, rounded goalkeeper Jason Mann and rolled his shot home.
Dayne Willimsen came agonisingly close to put the hosts ahead with 26 minutes to play but was denied by Mann's sharpness, and after Leon Newell hit the post 20 seconds later at the other end, the Welsh striker took his next chance to fire home for the eventual winner after 66 minutes.
Melville captain Josh Billman admitted his side toiled to subdue the challengers.
"To give them their due, they battled hard and we struggled," Billman said.
"We're just happy to get through really. It was always going to be tough - they've got a lot of pride, a lot of passion for their club.
"We weren't impressed with our performance, but we'll take it and move on to the next round and see who we get - hopefully it'll be a home fixture."
It could yet be crosstown rivals Hamilton Wanderers, who won their postponed third round match 3-1 away to North Shore United.
A hat-trick from all-action midfielder Mark Jones put Wanderers into the fourth round, where they will meet fellow Premier Division side Bay Olympic away this weekend.
In the women's Knockout Cup, Claudelands Rovers led Forrest Hill Milford 2-0 at halftime at Galloway Park through goals from Kate Loye and Rebecca Brown, but went down 3-2 to their rivals for the league title in the quarterfinal clash.
The Rovers men's side gained a 2-1 win the previous day at the same venue to continue their climb to out of relegation danger in Division Two. Paul Ruddell and Michael Sugar capitalised on goalkeeping errors late in the first half to score and the hosts held on after Zane Christiansen pulled one back.