MPL – Unforgettable day in Nelson

The first game of the doubleheader weekend for Queen’s Birthday was against Nelson in Nelson on Saturday, followed by Selwyn in the Chatham cup on Monday. Both games brought their own importance and it felt so nice to have a full squad of 18 fit and quality players all happy and battling for places. I’ve never gone into a big doubleheader with so much depth available, to be honest.

Early Start to Nelson…

It was a 5 AM wake-up call for most of us as we got an early flight into Nelson to play a very early 12 pm kickoff!!! An unsettling process for all sides that go up there, it’s no wonder their home record is so strong. We managed to go up and use all the travel time to our advantage to create more unity within the group. Over the last couple of years we have done well in Nelson and being able to beat them is a big reason why we are a top three team in the MPL at the moment.

Haris on fire

From the whistle the boys were so, so disciplined. We are seeing what we want and the boys’ execution was amazing. Playing combinations and making runs exactly like we have been working on in training has seen Haris get a hat trick- yes three goals- in the space of 25 minutes. Nelson left stunned whilst we were continuously relentless. Very savage.

I think we can all see that if Haris can become more clinical and improve his decision making then he could go to the next level and play professionally. I think as an amateur club in a small footballing nation it’s our duty to harness these talents and offer a range of experiences. Seeing Haris do his thing on a day where he’s 100% clinical with all his shooting was simply destructive. Him running over to the subs bench to celebrate his hat-trick was definitely a special moment. I believe giving him a debut at this level at 15 years old, just over twelve months ago, has accelerated this kid’s development.

Half time changes

Again we were 3-0 at halftime. Knowing we had a big Chatham Cup game on Monday we decided to defend deeper, conserve energy and see the game out; whilst looking to hurt Nelson on a deadly counter, with Ash and Haris absolutely oozing with confidence. When you have a player like Dom that’s always going to win the Ben Wright battle then the job is already half done in seeing Nelson out. Halfway through the second half, Haris scored another well-composed goal followed by Liam Hare with an absolute screamer top left, left foot from 20 yards out.

The score ended 5-0 to Coastal in Nelson and that’s a game I’ll never forget. I feel for Nelson, they had a very strong lineup but Haris was just so clinical and they kind of got us at a bad time- because we are in great form.

Man of the Match…

Our wing backs JJ and Smiley were a constant menace up and down. JJ’s assists for Haris and distribution needs to be mentioned. Liam H was playing just like he was last week. Rhys had his best game of the season and Tristan was as good as he always is. MoM of the match I thought would have been Liam H but you obviously can’t go past Haris scoring for 4 goals. Well done Haris.

Our boys were well rested thanks to the easy game. Macca only playing 15 minutes and Ash coming off after 60 minutes. We will be going into the Selwyn game pretty fresh, with four players that didn’t travel coming into the team. The win means we are guaranteed top three so it’s nice that we won’t be taking a step backward after finishing third last season. A draw in our last game will be enough to secure second.

Let’s keep the goals coming.