Marlborough football trio unbeaten
Marlborough's three representatives in the Top of the South football league picked up two wins and a draw on Saturday.
Showing the way was the unbeaten Central Pirates combination. They took on FC Nelson Locomotive at A and P Park, prevailing 6-0. Their clubmates, Central, crossed the Whangamoas to take on Richmond at Jubilee Park and came away with a 4-1 win, while the third Blenheim side, Rangers City fought out an entertaining 4-4 draw with FC Nelson Reserves at Athletic Park.
Pirates began their clash with Locomotive as if they, literally, had a train to catch. Midway through the first spell they led 4-0 after almost totally dominating possession and field position. Bryce Smith opened the scoring after seven minutes with a sweetly-struck shot from 18 yards, then his striking partner Harrison Pine bagged the second three minutes later.
Five minutes later Pine was in again, picking his spot as the defence allowed him too much time on the ball, then he completed a superb hat-trick when he was stationed at the far post to tap in a cross from the right.
Pirates' fifth goal, and Pine's fourth came five minutes before halftime when the lofty striker dispossessed a Locomotive defender at the top of the area and coolly slotted home.
With the Pirates midfield of Jordan Columbus, Alex Duley, Jono Masters, Shane Evans and Liam Sluiter dominating that area of the park, their rivals were forced to live off scraps of possession and barely bothered keeper Jamie Roberts.
In font of him, the defensive trio of sweeper Aaron Hayes, Gregg Slatter and Martin Ryder handled any attacks that came their way with aplomb.
The second half saw much of the same, but with less impact on the scoreboard.
An improved defensive effort by Locomotive, led by Kerry Eggers, Nigel Hale, Neil Benson and Daniel Kotua, plus keeper Koen Schotens, combined with some wayward and rushed finishing from the home side, meant just a single goal was scored. Smith bagged his second, and Pirates' sixth, with five minutes to go.
Pirates coach Paul Finnegan was happy with his side's "clinical" display in the first half but suggested his players may have to "go to the shooting range this week" after their second half effort.
"When you are well ahead you get a bit complacent ... the effort to win the ball was still there, because we had just as much possession in that second half."
The coach was pleased with the efforts of the energetic Smith up front, whose movement around goal created space for Pine to unleash some scorching shots. "The power in his shot is something else," said Finnegan. "To have a strike like that is a big weapon in your armoury."
Amid a strong team effort, Hayes organised the defence well from the back, while Sluiter and Columbus complemented each other well in the centre of the park and Evans produced a stream of accurate crosses from the right wing.
At Athletic Park, Rangers City missed out on a chance to grab a much-needed three points when FC Nelson Reserves scored a late equaliser.
The score did not reflect the home side's dominance, according to City coach Craig Forman. The first half ended 1-1, Julian Delgado scoring for Rangers. Early in the second spell a goalkeeping error allowed the visitors to go 2-1 ahead. Five minutes later Reserves slotted home a superb free kick to lead 3-1, before City began their comeback. Delgado scored his second then Keagan Mortimer slammed home a spectacular 25m free kick to put his side on level terms. They went ahead soon after when Mortimer snatched his second, but conceded the equaliser after a mix-up at the back with 10 minutes to play.
Forman said his whole side "put in a pretty good stint", especially with only one substitute and had special praise for centre midfielder Delgado and striker Mortimer who posed a threat throughout.
A strong second half effort from Central saw them claim maximum points from Richmond. A Jono McCormick goal had them on level terms at halftime, before John Porter, Jared Nott and McCormick found the back of the net in the second 45 to put the issue beyond doubt. Defender Harrison Boyce was Central's player of the day.
Central Pirates 6 (Harrison Pine 4, Bruce Smith 2) FC Nelson Locomotive 0. HT: 5-0. Rangers City 4 (Julian Delgado 2, Keagan Mortimer 2) FC Nelson Reserves 4. HT: 1-1. Central 4 (Jono McCormick 2, John Porter, Jared Nott) Richmond 1. HT: 1-1