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Thistle Youth have their day

FOOTBALL

GISBORNE Thistle Youth showed the resilience of, well, youth when they bounced back from a 13-0 defeat to win their latest match 4-3.

They beat clubmates Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle Reserves, who themselves were coming off an 8-2 loss to Thistle Massive.

Thistle Youth’s loss the previous week had been to Heavy Equipment Services United, who had the bye last weekend.

The other game on Saturday was also a thriller, Carpet Court Thistle Massive beating Sunshine Brewing Wainui Sharks 3-2.

Last night, coach Ross Niven was still bubbling about the performance of his Thistle Youth team, but at halftime on Saturday he could have been forgiven for thinking it was all going to custard again.

“We started quite strongly and scored in the first 10 minutes,” he said.

“Then they scored three goals and we trailed 3-1 at halftime.”

At halftime, Thistle Youth regrouped, rolled up their sleeves, pulled up their socks and reflected on life’s great mysteries — they’re teenagers, who knows? It was probably a few quiet words of encouragement from Niven. It wasn’t the addition of substitutes, because they had none.

Daniel Venema, the only first-team squad member to boost the Youth ranks and one of only two more experienced players in the side, had shifted from leftback to centreback just before the break, which would have shored up the central defence.

Otherwise, a team getting “hammered” in the first half turned themselves around and “stood up” (Niven’s words) in the second.

Centre-forward Levi Julies had scored a goal in the first half and added a second after the break, while Cory Thomson scored two from central midfield.

Jamil dos Santos was Thistle Youth’s player of the day. He started the game out wide but moved into central midfield as the game progressed and was a revelation.

“He worked hard, he created, he was everywhere,” Niven said.

“Everyone played well. This is a team made up predominantly of schoolboys. They scored the last goal with 20 minutes to go, so the Reserves had plenty of time to come back at them.

“The boys were passing the ball around, holding it. They wound the clock down like professionals.”

Reserves coach Davie Ure also had trouble getting a team on the field.

“We were very depleted and I’m really disappointed with the last few weeks where we have struggled for numbers,” he said.

“At the moment, we are not offering the professional environment we promised, and we need to improve that.”

But he was pleased with those players he did have on the field.

Leo Maisey scored their first goal, a nice angled finish, curled inside the far post.

Alex Davies took time out from his role of provider to score two goals himself, one of them a penalty.

Thistle Reserves have the bye this weekend but Thistle Youth have a tough task — a game on Childers Road Reserve No.1 against league leaders Thistle Massive.

Wainui Sharks are only two points behind Massive, with a game in hand, so last Saturday’s five-goal slugfest is far from the last round in this contest.

Massive opened the scoring, through right-winger Oska Smith, about 20 minutes in.

Ten minutes later, Wainui equalised through Shane Hooks from the penalty spot, after a Wainui player had been fouled in the area.

Soon after, Hooks had to leave the field with a recurrence of a hamstring injury. It was a big blow for Wainui, because Hooks was the ideal foil for midfield maestro Max Logan, who was again one of the most influential players on the field.

United were already without defenders Mal Furlan (away), Caleb Baldacchino and John Hill (both injured).

Double centrebacks Jamie Gallacher and Daniel Willock gave sterling service, but the absence of three players from a team’s defensive stocks provides a challenge.

Up front, Thiago Carlos de Melo kept the Massive defenders on their toes.

Massive regained the lead when Juan Martin dived forward to head a bobbling ball from the edge of the penalty area past goalkeeper Patrick Pierard, who was one of Wainui’s best on the day.

Wainui equalised, again from the penalty spot, through Jake Theron.

Midfielder Tim Cook scored the winner with a glancing header to a free-kick clipped in by Martin.

Those to shine for Massive were father-son duos Oska and Matt Smith and Jimmy and Nic Somerton, centreback Santiago Roanelli, right-winger Ramiro Caeirol, Cook, and fullbacks Daniel Contreras (left) and Josh Blair (right).