Wangaratta City's unbeaten run brought to an end by stunning Melrose comeback in AWFA senior men's competition

PUMPED: Josh O'Brien celebrates after a brilliant finish to get Melrose back into the contest against Wangaratta City on Sunday. Picture: MARK JESSER
PUMPED: Josh O'Brien celebrates after a brilliant finish to get Melrose back into the contest against Wangaratta City on Sunday. Picture: MARK JESSER

Melrose produced a brilliant come-from-behind performance to defeat Wangaratta City 3-2 at Melrose Park and hand the league favourites their first loss of the AWFA senior men’s season. 

Despite trailing on two separate occassions, Melrose stayed in the hunt and put away two crucial goals in the finals stages to snatch victory.

George Elkotta scored against the run of play to give the Devils a 1-0 lead at half-time.

However, it was Melrose who came out stronger in the second half, with Evan Rawluk’s header levelling the contest at 1-1 after 54 minutes.

I didn’t know what to say at half-time, it was deflating, but the boys knew there were goals in it and they just kept working.

Kade Rixon

Adam Burchell took the lead back for Wangaratta from the penalty spot after an infringement from Morgan Payne, but that would be the last time they would trouble the scorers.

A classy finish from Josh O’Brien drew Melrose level once again, before Rawluk capatalised on a dangerous ball in the box to score his second and guide the home side to an impressive win.

Melrose coach Kade Rixon left the field with a leg injury, but was confident his side could turn the scoreline around.

“As attacking as we are, we haven’t had the press up forward, so we went with two up front today and tried to put their back four under the pump,” Rixon said.

“To the boys credit, I think 3-2 flatters Wangaratta in the end.

“I didn’t know what to say at half-time, it was deflating, but the boys knew there were goals in it and they just kept working.”

Rixon has been scratching his head the past three weeks after a string of indifferent performances, but was delighted with the effort shown against the Devils. 

“We know our best football is good enough and I’ve been at home not sleeping, thinking what’s going wrong, it’s the same team and the same work,” he said.

“At the end of the day, the biggest thing is just the work rate and effort.

“For three weeks in a row it wasn’t there, but today it was there, it’s just something so simple.

“A coach takes himself off and all of a sudden we score two goals and win the game, I don’t know what I’m going to do next week.

“We’re definitely not relying on what I’m doing, we’re not relying on any individual at this team, everyone is chipping in, so I’m confident with whoever plays.”

Wangaratta coach Connor Heffernan was “gutted” with the result.

“Everything we’ve done to get us where we are today, went out the window,” Heffernan said.

“Simple things that have got us here, we let go today.

“This week at training we’ll get back to basics and keep doing the things that have got us here.

“Hopefully it gives us a kick in the backside and pushes us on to do better things.”

The result was even more sour for Wangaratta who lost defender Riley Hamilton to a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time.