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Happy with share of spoils

DEFENDING champions Thistle Massive lost their 100 percent win record in Eastern League football at the weekend but their coach is not complaining.

If anything, Johnny Stirton almost seemed pleased to share the spoils 0-all with Gisborne United in a top-of-the-table division 1 encounter on Childers Road Reserve No.1 pitch.

“I think nil-all was a fair result,” said Stirton, who would prefer to see a closely-fought league rather than a one-team race.

A win would have stretched their lead over United — the team shaping as their major title threat — to eight points.

“As it now stands, this keeps it interesting.”

Thistle head the table on 16 points. Gisborne Boys’ High (1), courtesy of a 2-0 win against Gisborne Bohemians, are second on 12. United are on 11 and Wainui Sharks also have 11 after their 5-3 defeat of clubmates the Demons.

Carpet Court Thistle beat United (2) 5-1 in the other division 1 match.

Stirton expects CC Thistle to get better as the season progresses and he has plenty of respect for United, especially after Saturday.

“There was a rumour going round that they weren’t as strong this year. What a load of crap. They’re just as good, maybe a little better. . . . they’ll be up there at the end.”

Lost goal opportunityBoth sides could have broken the deadlock. Stirton said Massive had one open goal opportunity but blew it while their defence had to scramble it off the line several times from high balls into the box.

“It was just one of those games. We had a few chances but it never happened.”

Boys’ High bounced back from their loss to CC Thistle with goals in each half —to Alex Larkin and Vanuatuan Jason Kalfabun — against the Bohos.

GBHS coach Joel Robinson, though, said while he was “always happy to win”, it was a “pretty ugly game”, and he felt they were a little fortunate to come away with maximum points.

GBHS could have been 3-0 down at halftime but for a combination of poor finishing (by the Bohemians) and good goalkeeping (Monty Radburn), he said.

Radburn produced easily the highlight of the game and a contender for save of the Eastern League season in the second half. A Dylan Goldsmith shot from 22 metres looked destined for the top right corner only for Radburn to dive full-length, somehow gets his left-hand fingertips to the ball and clip it on to the crossbar.

Robinson said livewire midfielder Noy Paul was probably their best on the day while central midfielder David Clark stood up when they were “under the cosh”.

“But I think we can play a lot better football.”

Bohemians player-coach Phil Gloistein acknowledged the Boys’ High effort although felt they got the rub of the green on a few decisions.

He wasn’t arguing with the result.

“They deserved it. They played some good football and took (a couple of) their chances. We had chances but didn’t do the same.”

Player depth a problemPlayer depth is an issue for Bohemians. Gloistein said they only had a squad of about 13 at the moment and he would like to more of their seconds team players stepping up, instead of choosing to play in division 2.

They were more than capable and it would contribute to the development pathway for their third team’s younger players, he said.

Sharks versus Demons sounds like a good B-grade movie title but there was a touch of blockbuster in the Wainui derby.

The underdog Demons won the second half 2-0 but lost the first 5-1 in an eight-goal spectacle.

“Tricky” Ricky Boyd added a double to the previous weekend’s hat-trick, Marcel Campbell also got a couple and Shane Hooks completed the Sharks’ first-half blitz.

After going 1-0 down within the first five minutes, Demon Mark Harris equalised with a looping volley from outside the box. That only sparked the Sharks back into the action and they rattled off four without reply.

The balance of power shifted in the second half and two goals to Ben Inda made the aftermatch beer a little sweeter.

Bottom-of-the-table United (2) rocked CC Thistle with an early goal from Liam Wire.

Order was restored after 20 minutes and Thistle, fielding their strongest team of the season so far, went on to record a relatively easy win.

Player of the day Olly Tilley scored a hat-trick and there were also goals from Nicky Land and Garrett Blair.

While United (2) have lost all five matches and only managed three goals, player-coach “Sir” Laurence Fleming – playing in division 1 at the tender age of 54 – said “the guys are in great spirit”.

Their efforts, which included a disallowed goal late in the game. drew praise from CC Thistle coach Ronnie Young.

“They played really well.”