Thistle do just enough

WINNING GOAL: Gisborne Thistle centreback George Andrew gets up to head the winning goal against Napier City Rovers Reserves at Childers Road Reserve on Saturday. Thistle won the match 2-1. Picture by Paul Rickard

FOOTBALL

GISBORNE Thistle made hard work of their 2-1 Pacific Premiership win against Napier City Rovers Reserves on Saturday.

For the most part, Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle set their shooting sights too high. When they did hit the target they were often accurate to a fault . . . the yellow-clad figure of Napier goalkeeper Reuben Hilton was like a shot-magnet as blistering drives were hit straight at him.

To give Hilton his due, though, his positioning was good, he was brave, his reactions were sharp, and his luck was in and he rode it.

Both teams played attractive one- and two-touch football. The first half, in particular, had lots of patterned yet incisive play.

However, Thistle’s finishing was off, their luck was out and Napier had come to Childers Road Reserve with a plan . . . defend in numbers, block everything and counter-attack fast.

At halftime, with the score 1-1, it seemed to be working.

Thistle had a truckload of chances in the first half but resolute defence and off-target shooting kept them scoreless until the 37th minute.

Centreback George Andrew — one of Thistle’s best — ventured forward to receive the ball and then found attacking midfielder Davie Ure wide on the right. Ure got to the byline and hit his cross beyond the far post, where targetman Liam McMenamy was waiting. While Ure had been drawing attention with his run, McMenamy had drifted to the back of the goal area and far enough away from his marker to finish the move with a diving header . . . 1-0.

One goal didn’t seem enough, the way Napier had been playing. Most of their players ranged in age from 15 to 18 and some looked thin enough to be blown away in a gust of wind. But they shirked nothing.

In the 42nd minute, Napier counter-attacked and caught Thistle short-handed at the back. Defensive midfielder Andrew Brott did well to get back but as he tried to intercept, the ball broke kindly for Napier striker Finn Smith, who steadied himself before placing the ball beyond Jags keeper Mark Baple . . . 1-1.

Individually, Thistle fullbacks Kuba Jerabek and Jay Matthews, and centrebacks Ander Batarrita and George Andrew played well, and they tried to cover each other. But they got caught flat too often for comfort. Baple comes a long way out to sweep; that’s not always practical, though. It’s a balancing act.

Ure hit two stonking shots to finish the first half. The first was a 20-metre volley that was just wide and the second was a piledriver that Hilton parried up, then watched as it dropped on to the junction of the goal frame and away to safety.

McMenamy almost scored again when he ran on to a 58th-minute Matthews pass down the right and hit the ball first time past the advancing keeper. Centreback Keegan Sachs got across to clear the danger.

Sachs, his centreback partner Risqy Mandala (helping out from a lower-graded team), fullbacks Jacques Markram and Tom Davies, and central midfielders Isaac Milley and Jackson Haines swarmed around Thistle attackers. And then they looked good breaking forward.

Matthew Sproull, another helping out from a lower-graded team, put himself about up front and doubled as one of the token adults in the side.

Thistle’s winner came in the 82nd minute

Thistle’s winner came in the 82nd minute. Again, centreback Andrew had gone forward and Matthews found him with a long, diagonal ball to the far post.

Andrew looped his header over the keeper into the goal.

Two minutes later, Batarrita rolled a free-kick across the edge of the Napier penalty area and McVey hit a scorcher first time through a crowd of players . . . straight at the keeper.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair said it was a lucky escape.

“We dominated possession and created chances but we weren’t clinical in front of goal,” he said.

He was especially pleased with Brott, who impressed him with his composure, vision and mobility in a defensive midfield role, and with Andrew, who was a solid defender and a good leader.

Napier coaches Chris McIvor and Stu Wilson were light on numbers, so decided to try to frustrate Thistle and “take the game deep”.

“We did that well,” McIvor said.

“Probably on balance, with possession and the number of chances, they deserved their three points.”

His picks for special mention were centreback Sachs and midfielder Milley.

“We’ve been fielding our under-19 team all year, bringing a couple of senior players in each week, and have played half a dozen games with just the youngsters in there.

“We’ve got four players in the club’s Central League squad — one is starting for them now — and today three of our players went away with that team.”

Goalkeeper Hilton is one of the experienced players in the side.

“When we play in the under-19 tournament, we’ll have Gisborne Boys’ High School keeper Regan Cameron coming into the team,” McIvor said.

Saturday’s match was well controlled by referee Ben Chisholm and his assistants.

FOOTBALL

GISBORNE Thistle made hard work of their 2-1 Pacific Premiership win against Napier City Rovers Reserves on Saturday.

For the most part, Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle set their shooting sights too high. When they did hit the target they were often accurate to a fault . . . the yellow-clad figure of Napier goalkeeper Reuben Hilton was like a shot-magnet as blistering drives were hit straight at him.

To give Hilton his due, though, his positioning was good, he was brave, his reactions were sharp, and his luck was in and he rode it.

Both teams played attractive one- and two-touch football. The first half, in particular, had lots of patterned yet incisive play.

However, Thistle’s finishing was off, their luck was out and Napier had come to Childers Road Reserve with a plan . . . defend in numbers, block everything and counter-attack fast.

At halftime, with the score 1-1, it seemed to be working.

Thistle had a truckload of chances in the first half but resolute defence and off-target shooting kept them scoreless until the 37th minute.

Centreback George Andrew — one of Thistle’s best — ventured forward to receive the ball and then found attacking midfielder Davie Ure wide on the right. Ure got to the byline and hit his cross beyond the far post, where targetman Liam McMenamy was waiting. While Ure had been drawing attention with his run, McMenamy had drifted to the back of the goal area and far enough away from his marker to finish the move with a diving header . . . 1-0.

One goal didn’t seem enough, the way Napier had been playing. Most of their players ranged in age from 15 to 18 and some looked thin enough to be blown away in a gust of wind. But they shirked nothing.

In the 42nd minute, Napier counter-attacked and caught Thistle short-handed at the back. Defensive midfielder Andrew Brott did well to get back but as he tried to intercept, the ball broke kindly for Napier striker Finn Smith, who steadied himself before placing the ball beyond Jags keeper Mark Baple . . . 1-1.

Individually, Thistle fullbacks Kuba Jerabek and Jay Matthews, and centrebacks Ander Batarrita and George Andrew played well, and they tried to cover each other. But they got caught flat too often for comfort. Baple comes a long way out to sweep; that’s not always practical, though. It’s a balancing act.

Ure hit two stonking shots to finish the first half. The first was a 20-metre volley that was just wide and the second was a piledriver that Hilton parried up, then watched as it dropped on to the junction of the goal frame and away to safety.

McMenamy almost scored again when he ran on to a 58th-minute Matthews pass down the right and hit the ball first time past the advancing keeper. Centreback Keegan Sachs got across to clear the danger.

Sachs, his centreback partner Risqy Mandala (helping out from a lower-graded team), fullbacks Jacques Markram and Tom Davies, and central midfielders Isaac Milley and Jackson Haines swarmed around Thistle attackers. And then they looked good breaking forward.

Matthew Sproull, another helping out from a lower-graded team, put himself about up front and doubled as one of the token adults in the side.

Thistle’s winner came in the 82nd minute

Thistle’s winner came in the 82nd minute. Again, centreback Andrew had gone forward and Matthews found him with a long, diagonal ball to the far post.

Andrew looped his header over the keeper into the goal.

Two minutes later, Batarrita rolled a free-kick across the edge of the Napier penalty area and McVey hit a scorcher first time through a crowd of players . . . straight at the keeper.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair said it was a lucky escape.

“We dominated possession and created chances but we weren’t clinical in front of goal,” he said.

He was especially pleased with Brott, who impressed him with his composure, vision and mobility in a defensive midfield role, and with Andrew, who was a solid defender and a good leader.

Napier coaches Chris McIvor and Stu Wilson were light on numbers, so decided to try to frustrate Thistle and “take the game deep”.

“We did that well,” McIvor said.

“Probably on balance, with possession and the number of chances, they deserved their three points.”

His picks for special mention were centreback Sachs and midfielder Milley.

“We’ve been fielding our under-19 team all year, bringing a couple of senior players in each week, and have played half a dozen games with just the youngsters in there.

“We’ve got four players in the club’s Central League squad — one is starting for them now — and today three of our players went away with that team.”

Goalkeeper Hilton is one of the experienced players in the side.

“When we play in the under-19 tournament, we’ll have Gisborne Boys’ High School keeper Regan Cameron coming into the team,” McIvor said.

Saturday’s match was well controlled by referee Ben Chisholm and his assistants.

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