Young have locked down their finals berth in the best possible way – stunning competition heavyweights Tolland on their home track.
The visiting Lions had plenty to play for on Sunday; revenge for their earlier 5-2 loss in June and a chance to secure a spot in this year’s revised finals series ranking highly among them.
However, few would have predicted the 3-1 scoreline that followed.
Mark Mellish’s men were irrepressible against the second-placed Wolves, winning contests and dominating in contact to run out convincing victors off the back of a powerful opening half.
“Dan (Tolland coach Daniel Lawrence) mentioned last week that the result would depend on which Young side showed up,” Mellish said.
“We’ve got a lot of potential and we were confident of getting a point out there, but we ended up playing really well and I’m very happy with the result.”
Isaac Anderson opened the scoring for Young in the 15th minute, latching on to a set-piece corner and heading the ball past Tolland goalkeeper Mitchyl McCrory for an early advantage.
Tolland chanced their arm but looked vulnerable against a strong breeze that favoured the Lions during the opening half.
The 1-0 margin looked likely to hold at the main break before a late corner gifted the Wolves a chance in the 40th minute.
Jaiden O’Brien found the net from the ensuing scramble but was ruled to be offside, sparking a five-minute capitulation for his side.
Young somehow worked their way upfield from the clearing kick and found Nathan Hislop, who skirted down the left flank before cutting back inside and spearing the ball past McCrory for the Lions’ second.
Duncan Cameron tripled Tolland’s agony two minutes later in a similar fashion, rushing down the left wing and finishing off the left boot to take Young’s lead to 3-0 at half time.
The break seemed to settle Daniel Lawrence’s charges and the tides began to turn when Ramon Atayde slotted Tolland’s first goal in the 62nd minute.
However, further goals were impossible to come by as Young held on grimly until the full time whistle.
“We knew we had to be on our game because Tolland are a very good team that play the ball very well,” Mellish said.
“I know that Tolland probably weren’t at their best but you’ve got to play the team in front of you and that’s what we did.
Still, it’s always good to grind out wins and it’s even better that we know we’re in the finals now, so we’ll give the boys a rest next during the general bye and then we’ll get back into it against Cootamundra.”
The result sees Young retain fourth spot on the Pascoe Cup ladder with 27 points ahead of Leeton (25) and Wagga United (24).
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