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A massive effort

Thistle Massive were crowned Gisborne Championship Division 1 winners after they beat a determined Boys’ High School 4-1 at Childers Road Reserve on Saturday.

Carpet Court Thistle Massive finished the season on 28 out of a possible 30 points.

They won nine and drew one of their 10 games to finish three points ahead of Heavy Equipment Services Gisborne United 1sts.

United gave it all in their final game, downing Lytton High School 1st XI 11-2 at Harry Barker Reserve to end with a record of eight wins, a draw and a loss.

Massive coach John Stirton was ecstatic with his side’s championship triumph.

“It was a long season where we battled through a lot of injuries” he said. “I am delighted with the win but GBHS gave us a battle and pushed us to the end.”

Stirton had a 16-strong squad for Saturday’s game and was keen to get every player involved at some point.

They nearly scored after five minutes. Winger Matt Smith beat the offside trap only to be denied by the first of many great tackles from GBHS right-back Paul Stewart.

Constant pressure from Massive paid off three minutes later when experienced striker Nic Somerton’s shot got a deflection, wrongfooting goalkeeper Seth Piper.

In the 31st minute, a defensive error let Smith in again. He crossed into the penalty area to Kieran Ryan, who took a touch, then belted the ball home.

Massive deserved to be two goals to the good at halftime. Possession was even but they took their chances well.

GBHS had it all to do in the second half. They launched wave after wave of attacks over a 20-minute period but could not penetrate a resilient Massive defence.

In the 70th minute, against the run of play, Massive midfielder Max Mika made a good run and his cross found Somerton, who volleyed the ball into the back of the net to make it 3-0.

The Massive defence was finally broken when Matt McNeil went around two defenders and delivered a great cross into big striker Oscar Ruston. His header was parried by goalkeeper Raymond Rickard but Ruston was following through to nod the ball home.

With time nearly up, Massive had one last opportunity. Ander Bataritta sent a peach of a pass to Mika, who went around two defenders, then the advancing Piper, and neatly tucked the ball into the bottom-right corner of the net

When referee Nigel Mead blew the final whistle, Massive’s celebrations began.

Despite the loss, Boys’ High head coach Sebastian Itman Bocchi was extremely happy with the students’ efforts.

“We made them work for their victory (but) Massive were worthy champions and deserved the win,” he said.

Bocchi’s man of the match was Ruston while Stirton’s pick was left-back Daniel Contreras.

United had a mathematical chance of winning the league but needed Boys’ High to win well while they scored a hatload of goals against Lytton.

They achieved the second part of that equation. Coach and striker Stu Cranswick scored five goals, Jonathan Purcell got two and there was one each from Jimmy Holden, Ben Hansen and brothers Steven and Damon Husband.

Lytton replied with goals to Jamil Weiss dos Santos and Ollie Moss.

Ryan Majstrovic, who came out of “retirement” to help make up the numbers for Lytton, praised the efforts of Cole Devenport, who tackled and defended brilliantly, and Merlin Parsons and Travis White, who worked tirelessly in the middle of the park.

Bragging rights were at stake in a local derby between Sunshine Brewery Wainui Sharks and Coates Associates Wainui Demons.

The Sharks came out on top, 2-0, courtesy of goals to Baz McCarthy and Graeme Card.

“Our derby was evenly contested but we created a few more chances and took our goals well,” said Sharks player and Wainui club stalwart Mike Vita.

The win also promoted the Sharks to fourth on the table, one point above the Demons.

CELEBRATION: A jubilant Thistle Massive team after clinching the Gisborne Championship Division 1 league crown at their home Childers Road Reserve ground on Saturday. Standing (from left) are Shannon Dowsing, Michael Rogers, Geoff Griffin, Matt Feisst, Ander Batarrita, coach John Stirton, Phil Gill, Craig Stirton, Emerson Araya, Kieran Ryan (slightly obscured) and Ray Rickard. Taking a knee are Matt Smith, Nic Somerton, Chris Spurr (holding the trophy), Stefan Faber, Daniel Contreras, Max Mita and Reece Brew. Picture by Paul Rickard