MPL – Macca’s day v Nelson Suburbs

Last Saturday we hosted Nelson in what was the match of the season for us in terms of the Mainland Premier League.

Going through a full round and not beating either of the other top three teams would basically dash our title hopes. The game also saw our captain Macca play his 100th game for the club.

maccaHaving started the season not creating enough opportunities, we have since wanted to play a more high risk brand of football and although it nearly cost us the game against FC, today against Nelson it certainly helped.

We started the game slowly and in a bit of a stalemate but after 15 minutes we really started to dominate possession, play with confidence and were looking like a top team. It was pleasing to finally see our midfield three rotating when required and finding the answers to play and create good opportunities.

Nelson scored against the run of play with a bouncing long ball skimming our GK James’ head and providing Skippy with a tap in. It seems James has had to learn about the ASB turf bounce the hard way. What was most pleasing is everyone kept their cool and our dominance didn’t change an inch. In the past I have seen so many Coastal teams start arguing with each other or referees and not getting back into the game. Once again we see how much more mature and how strong our culture is within the group these days.

To be fair though, the timing of Macca’s equaliser was precise. To go into halftime 1-1 with all that momentum was pivotal. A goal that saw us switch play to our right side, which is what we wanted to do as much as possible this game. Liam G leaping forward to be our highest widest player as our right back, squaring it to Claudio who bet his man and slips a reverse pass onto a brilliant run from Macca who then waits for and beats Coey at his near post. A goal I will remember on Macca’s special day.

Second half I think we saw a champion team beat a team of champions. Nelson put out one of the strongest Nelson teams I’ve seen in years and we made them look pretty average. JJ’s pace on the right caused havoc which saw Macca gifted an open net from 30 yards, which he slotted. Our third goal came from Tristian stripping Nelson’s Risdale and threading it to Matt Thomas, who squeezed it through a helpless Corey’s legs to seal the deal at 3-1.

I think that game was our best performance of the season but there were also a large amount of mistakes and things we could do better. Which is good. We were not clinical enough and there were many bad passes when playing out from the back.

Despite the mistakes there were some good performances. JJ and Haris kept looking threatening but we haven’t quite seen the end product we need to be the best. I believe it’s there though. Rhys had an improved performance which he dearly needed. Tristian played well which was a relief. Liam G’s performance at right back surprised me to be honest, having never really played there. But the man of the match has to be captain fantastic for taking his opportunities. Macca now sits on 6 goals and to be honest has had very little opportunities to score this season. His goals have been crucial to the start of our campaign. I remember two years ago I was sitting down with him at Cargo Bar when I told him he could make a clinical #9… and he laughed.

Also, a special to mention to yet another young debutant this season. Aaran Browne I think is the quickest player in our squad. He has simply impressed me at training so much the last couple weeks that he gets a run today. All players know that they can get opportunities just from training well with me. I dont care what reputation someone has from what they have done in the past.

The good win against Nelson could all be for nothing if we can’t get the win against Nomads at Tullet Park next Saturday at 2:45pm. For the first time we will have a full squad, with Sean Liddicoat, Connor and Liam H all back and available. Very rarely in my coaching career have I had every player available but it will make for some difficult decisions. It’s an important moment of the season and in the past we have lost a player or two.

I’m hoping every player can accept that there will be times your not playing or not even in the squad. That’s what will make us even stronger. Being able to bring on a fresh Liam or Rhys, Zac or T, Connor or Louie, Matt or Macca, Treye or Haris.

Nomads have got some of the best players in town and were very unlucky not to beat Tech last week. It’s a game we need lots of support to get over the line thats for sure. Hope to see you there.