Blenheim Valley Cobras have rebounded from a patchy start to their 2019 campaign, claiming Marlborough Football’s men’s division one second-round honours.
Cobras notched a hard-fought 2-1 win over Central Pirates at A and P Park on Saturday to wrap up the second part of the season.
Pirates opened the scoring through Jordy Columbus and finished the first half looking the stronger unit, although Cobras’ striker James Mailaman created some good opportunities alongside Hamish Westwater.
Tom Mathews stood out in the Cobras backline, winning a high percentage of ball in the air against Pirates’ striker Chris Turkington.
Cobras made three changes in the second half, bringing on Cam Lang for Mailaman and Take Thu as a defensive midfield player.
Lang put pressure on Pirates’ defensive line, often beating them to the loose ball and harrying their play out from the back. Thu and Jack Procter provided strong defensive efforts in the centre and linked well with the two wingers Jackson Simmons and substitute George Timos to limit the effectiveness of Jordy Columbus, Shane Evans and Jonno Masters.
Cobras’ equaliser came when a corner from Thu found Procter on the back post. Then they took the lead when Lang won an aerial battle to head the ball to midfielder Lincoln Ellsworth, who set up Procter to slip the last defender and place it just inside the far post. Pirates replied with attack after attack, only to be rebuffed by Cobras’ keeper Matthyas van der Venter and captain Hayden Giles.
Cobras coach Glen Proffit described it as “a great match to finish the round”.
“Pirates are always tough competitors, even more so when they are struggling. They made a tight game of it but players like Westwater, Thu, Mailaman and Lang wanted the ball more.
“Both teams had shots off the woodwork that could have changed the game.”
Profitt said his side were forced to rebuild in round one after four major injuries and several player losses but felt their work over the last two months had paid off.
Rangers are still clear overall leaders across both rounds this season, with 22 points, but the pack has closed to have Pirates second on 16 and fifth place on 13 points.
“That’s got to be great for the local division one competition,” added Profitt.
“Hopefully next year we can test our strength in the Nelson competition with a return to Top of the South.
“When the Mariners players are back in their home teams it definitely lifts the local game.”
In the other match, Central Wolves reversed an 11-0 first-round scoreline against Rangers AFC to win 3-2 at Athletic Park.
An Aaron Hayes goal had Wolves ahead 1-0 at the break, but Rangers replied through Adam Rose and George Bond to get their noses in front 2-1.
Steve McCaa levelled the scores before Matthew Stretch nailed the winner with a well-hit shot from 25 yards with 10 minutes to go. Goalkeeper Richie Marsden, McCaa and Harry Boyce were Wolves’ best as Rangers were punished once again for making small defensive errors.
Results: Blenheim Valley Cobras 2 Central Pirates 1; Central Wolves 3 Rangers AFC 2.
Standings: Cobras 10, Rangers 6, Wolves 6, MBC 4, Pirates 3
In Nelson division one action BV Bullets drew 1-1 with Richmond Swans in a free-flowing match at A&P park on Saturday.
Bullets’ goal came in the fifth minute through Emily Overend, then Swans replied in the 22nd when Jenny Harvey pounced on a loose ball and finished powerfully.
Bullets took control of the game in the second half, dominating possession and field position, but were unable to find the winning goal.
Bullets’ best were Tessa Hyland in goal, midfielder Rebecca Stewart and player of the day, central defender Hannah Martin.