Single goal enough to propel Melton into decider

Melton pulled off an upset win against Bayside to grab a spot in the Hockey Victoria Men’s Premier League division 3 grand final.

The Mustangs finished the regular season in third on the ladder, five games behind second-placed Bayside, so it was expected Bayside would be the team to beat in the preliminary final.

Neither team could find the back of the net in the first half, with both having chances.

Early in the second half, the Mustangs’ Chris Arnold pulled the goalkeeper one way, before his reverse shot found the back of the net to give his side the lead.

The Mustangs held on to the lead, with Arnold’s goal providing the match-winner.

Mustangs coach Glenn Lawrence said his players hadn’t envisaged a 1-0 win going into the game.

“Looking at the ladder, not many people thought we could make the grand final,” he said. “The way we finished the season, we knew going into this final we would have to play our best, but didn’t expect to win 1-0.

“While there was two teams above us, we had come from 3-1 down against both of them to draw 4-4 [in the regular season] so we knew we could match it.”

Lawrence said the key to success in the grand final would be making sure they repeated their preliminary final approach.

“We kept our structures and played a lot more down the side of the pitch to give us more width,” he said. “We got into the circle a few times for some shots, but weren’t able to convert. Once we were in front, we held our structures and kept pushing. We could have gone more defensively.

“We tried to hold on and they couldn’t get an equaliser.”

The Mustangs will face Old Melburnians in the grand final this weekend.

Lawrence said Old Melburnians were the one unknown side coming into the season, having dropped down a division.

He said Melton simply needed to keep doing what it had in the two finals so far.

“We’ll look at playing our structures and hopefully things will go our way,” he said.

The Mustangs will have two of their three men’s sides in grand finals, with their reserves side already through.

The reserves side finished the regular season on top of the ladder.