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Thistle get back on course

Gisborne teams Thistle and United won their matches in football’s Pacific Premiership on Saturday.

Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle had a hard time beating a fired-up Maycenvale 3-2 at Childers Road Reserve, while Heavy Equipment Services Gisborne United easily defeated Napier City Rovers Reserves 6-2 in Hawke’s Bay.

Thistle coach Garrett Blair had to tweak his starting line-up. Some players were unavailable and others were coming back in.

Thistle had the better start, dominating early possession, and could have been 3-0 up in 20 minutes.

Four minutes in, right-winger George Watson went close, shooting over the bar after a great lay-off from striker Liam McMenamy.

Eleven minutes later, Watson was the provider for captain and central midfielder Matt McVey, who shot just wide of the right post.

On 19 minutes, defensive midfielder Ander Batarrita hit a pinpoint free-kick into the goalmouth, where centreback George Andrew headed over the bar.

Thistle had to wait until just after the 30-minute mark to hit the front. Left winger Brandon Josling’s whipped cross struck the hand of a Maycenvale defender and Thistle were awarded a penalty. Spot-kick specialist Batarrita gave goalkeeper Brad Macdonald no chance.

On the stroke of halftime Macdonald sent a huge punt upfield. It bounced over the Thistle defence and Maycenvale striker Matt Goodwin latched on to the ball and steered it past Thistle keeper Mark Baple into the bottom right corner.

Just before halftime, Thistle rightback Jay Matthews was shown a yellow card for the first time in the match after a clumsy challenge on Goodwin.

The teams were level 1-1 at halftime, although Thistle had dominated possession.

In the 54th minute, McVey provided a peach of a cross for McMenamy, who missed his header but made up for it two minutes later.

He beat the offside trap and calmly placed the ball into the bottom left corner of the Maycenvale goal.

Ten minutes later, Maycenvale drew level again when Goodwin collected a long ball, went through the middle of Thistle’s defence and slotted the ball to Baple’s right.

Right on 75 minutes, Thistle scored the goal of the match when Batarrita found McMenamy in space on the right flank. McMenamy drew in the leftback and drilled a cross into the penalty area, where McVey smashed the ball into the net for a 3-2 lead.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Jay Matthews was shown a yellow card for the second time in the game, for a challenge on Goodwin, and was then shown the dreaded red.

Thistle’s man-of-the-match award was given to hard-working central midfielder Fabio Senna.

Blair was pleased with his side’s win against a side who fought to the end.

“Maycenvale have a good structure and challenged us right through the match,” he said.

“The boys showed character and played some good football. We just need to be more clinical in front of goal.”

In Napier, it was raining goals for league leaders Gisborne United, and this time they were without leading goalscorer Josh Adams, who was in Auckland.

Having put nine past City Rovers — last year’s champions — in the first match of the season, United struck six this time, with striker Jarom Brouwer scoring his first hat-trick for the club.

Pace and accuracy earned returning striker Josh Harris the opening goal 15 minutes in, when he went one on one with the City Rovers keeper and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.

Fifteen minutes later, against the run of play, City Rovers drew level.

Five minutes from halftime, United central midfielder Dane Thompson received the ball in his own half and went past two or three players, turned the rightback inside-out and scored with a shot that went in at the near post for a 2-1 halftime lead.

Corey Adams was not happy with his side’s first-half display.

“We were a bit slow and did not keep the ball as well as we usually do,” he said.

United’s game plan came together from the start of the second half.

In the 50th minute, Brouwer scored his first, receiving a nice pass from Harris and placing the ball in the bottom right corner of the goal.

Five minutes later, Harris added his second after beating three players and ending up one on one with the keeper again. He held his nerve and calmly slotted the ball into the net.

Five minutes later, City Rovers pulled a goal back when a cross struck rightback Matt Adams and deflected into the goal, leaving United keeper Jack Faulkner no chance.

Brouwer scored again in the 70th minute, hitting a parried shot into the top left of the Rovers goal. Ten minutes later, he completed his hat-trick with a great low drive from outside the box.

Joy turned to dismay for Corey Adams when he was shown the yellow card a second time, for over-celebrating Brouwer’s hat-trick. He will now miss the Federation Cup match on Saturday.

“Josh and Jarom both linked up well together and scored five brilliant goals between the two of them,” Adams said.

He gave made them joint players of the day.

Adams paid tribute to hard-working central defender Malachi Scammell, who had a great game and had stepped up his game over the past six weeks.

This Saturday, Thistle have a week off as it’s Federation Cup time again.

Gisborne United are among the eight teams still in this competition. They will face Eskview United in Hawke’s Bay.

Eskview beat Havelock North Wanderers Reserves 3-1 on Saturday and moved into third place in the league.

FIRST TO THE BALL: Gisborne Thistle rightback Kuba Jerabek (right) gets to the ball ahead of a Maycenvale attacker during a Pacific Premiership game at Childers Road Reserve on Saturday. Thistle won the match 3-2. Picture by Liam Clayton