MELROSE has staked its claims for the cup with a 3-1 win over Wangaratta at Willow Park yesterday.
Last year’s cup runners-up scored inside of three minutes with Morgan Payne taking advantage of a clash between Evan Rawluk and Red Devils’ keeper Jon Shaw.
On 35 minutes, Steve Perkins cut inside and found Rawluk on the penalty spot to extend their advantage.
Wangaratta’s only shot on goal for the whole match came on the stroke of half-time with Jake Giannakis heading home to halve the margin.
Soon after the break, striker Rawluk was at it again, heading home the goal that sealed the match for Melrose and set up a mouth-watering clash with league champions Wodonga Diamonds in Wangaratta.
Melrose’s solid defence continued with Sean Pye at the back, controlling the last line and picking out players with short and long balls.
The comfortable win also allowed them to continue resting match-winner Kade Rixon.
Coach Josh Fluss said it may be that Rixon is used off the bench against Diamonds.
“I think it was a quality effort from the whole team and I’m not sure I want to tinker with the starting line-up,” he said.
“Pye gives us something extra at the back and, like the game against Twin City, we weren’t really troubled other than when we gave up that soft goal on half-time.”
“Sam Barnett played on their danger man Stefan Joseph and he shut him down for the whole game — he was best on ground for us.
“Rixon may come in against Diamonds.
“We wanted to give him another week to get his body right but we were solid out there today so he might be a handy man to have coming off the bench — give us a bit of fire-power.”
Shaw said he was disappointed to end the season at the quarter-final stage.
“But the better team won, they were too good at the back today and I don’t think we had a shot on goal,” he said.
“It is hard to get a handle on the year.
“We have made finals which was great.
“But at the same time with this squad I’m disappointed not to be in the semi-finals at the very least.”