Melville fall short in final-match draw with Wanderers
Hamilton Wanderers rubbed salt into the Melville United wounds on Saturday when they denied the hosts their first home league win of the season in their final match with a 2-2 draw.
Schoolboy James Davies netted a 90th-minute equaliser for Wanderers, who had been reduced to 10 men in the second half of the Northern League Premier Division encounter when Mark Jones was red-carded for a foul on Jesse Edge.
Shortly after Jones' dismissal, Adam Thomas put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot and that should have been enough for the already relegated Melville side to gain just their second victory of their league campaign.
However, Davies was thrown on as a late substitute by Wanderers coach Mark Cossey, with instructions to test the Melville backline. He did just that when Jarrod Young sent him through on goal and he coolly slotted the finish past goalkeeper Matt Oliver.
That provided a duly gloomy finish to Melville's season, which resulted in Declan Edge's side finishing bottom and dropping into Division One for next year.
They did not have the best start on Saturday, falling behind after 11 minutes when referee Campbell-Kirk Waugh gave Wanderers a soft penalty that Jones converted.
However, Melville responded well, with Mohammad Awad prominent, and it was not a surprise when just two minutes later he surged forward and fed an overlapping Josh Billman. When Billman's shot was saved by the foot of Wanderers keeper Vladi Frank, Awad was on hand to poke home the rebound.
Melville then had excellent chances either side of halftime after scything runs from Adam Wallis and then Aaron Scott. However, diminutive striker Bailey Webster could not capitalise.
Those misses should not have mattered. However, Melville had squandered points this season. It was not a shock to see them finish their campaign in familiar circumstances.
Awad and Wallis were standouts for the hosts, while Raymond How was prominent for Wanderers, who jumped to a fourth-place finish with their dramatic point.
It was an excellent reward for Cossey and a relatively young squad that often out-performed their more vaunted opponents.
In Division One, Ngaruawahia United grabbed a point in a 1-1 away draw with Forrest Hill Milford thanks to a goal from Shane McNeill.