MELLOR 2 NEWTON HEATH 1
Mellor reached the Rhodes Cup Final for the second time in three years after winning an ill tempered game against undisciplined Division One opponents Newton Heath.
Mellor did not perform to the best of their abilities. But two moments of magic from Dom Randle proved enough to overcome rugged opponents who had their keeper sent off for dissent late on and three players booked.
The men in blue lined up in a familiar 5-3-2 formation, with Joe Dalby in central midfield deputising for the absent Chris Coram.
On the day Dalby was one of Mellor's best players, retaining possession and playing simple passes.
Mellor's defence, especially the three centre-backs, also did well to deal with the physical challenge of the opposition.
The game could not have got off to a more dramatic start.
With less than 60 seconds on the clock a centre from the left struck Paul Swann on the arm and referee Dave Wardle awarded Newton Heath a penalty.
Mellor have an unenviable record of never winning a match in which they have gone behind for three seasons.
But keeper Jamie McGregor plunged to his left to block the spot kick and got down again to save the follow up.
It was a defining moment in the tie.
The ball was cleared for a throw in on the right and Newton Heath had a long throw specialist who created a second moment of anxiety as a forward headed over from six yards out.
On an excellent surface but with a tricky wind blowing at first across the pitch Mellor struggled to find their rhythm.
Beer and Byrne the full backs were not able to venture forward as much as they would have liked.
And the ball wasn't sticking when it went up front.
Mellor's first real chance came on 18 minutes via a quick free-kick on the left.
Whelan fed Peck who danced around a defender but hit the side netting from close range.
Jack Hilton is denied
Matt Peck goes through the gears
Hilton is upended in full flight
Peck hits the side netting
Mellor created a really good attack on 27 minutes, Ben Beer and Jack Hilton combining to set Randle free and his pass to Peck led to a shot that went over.
On 35 minutes Hilton's speculative shot from range was fumbled by the Newton Heath keeper over the bar for a corner.
From the low flag kick Paul Swann made an excellent near post run but his shot was blocked off.
Newton Heath howled at every decision and none more so than after a collision between Hilton and the Newton Heath keeper, who needed attention.
The referee did not see it as a cardable offence.
On 41 minutes Hilton got round the back and crossed but Peck miskicked and the ball ran to Randle whose accurate drive was blocked by a defender.
After a long period of stalemate, chances were coming now and Peck shot over again on 43 minutes.
A minute later Hilton headed over at the back post from a Peck right wing corner.
Hilton collides with the Newton Heath keeper
The second half began with Mellor attacking towards the changing rooms with the wind now at their backs.
But the first action was at Mellor's end, McGregor throwing himself full length to turn away a goal-bound shot.
On 60 minutes Mellor appeared to have worked the vital breakthrough.
Randle went on a mazy run passed three defenders and was upended in the box for a penalty.
Dave Whelan stepped up but his shot was at a good height for the keeper who leapt to his right to make the save.
A minute later Jack Hilton surged to the byline and crossed but Peck's outstretched boot couldn't quite connect. The ball went through to Beer who fired it back low into the centre but Peck hit this chance over.
Whelan had a chance to make amends for his uncoverted penalty with a free kick on the edge of the area on 68 minutes but his curling shot went a foot over.
Newton Heath were causing some anxious moments of their own.
On 75 minutes a left wing cross was headed over by a substitute.
Two minutes later a free kick from the same flank was perfectly delivered and a forward headed over from seven yards when he should have tested McGregor.
Gaps were appearing now in Newton Heath's defence but Mellor couldn't find the correct weight of pass.
On 81 minutes Fairfield climbed for a corner. The keeper saved on the goalline but Dom Randle followed up to score for 1-0.
Jack Kelly immediately replaced Matt Peck on front.
Dave Whelan's penalty is saved
Fairfield's header is saved but Randle (left) follows up to score
Randle does the Nolan duck walk to celebrate his second goal
On 86 minutes Randle broke away, slipped the ball passed the on-rushing keeper and stroked the ball into the empty net from 18 yards for 2-0.
Cue the Kevin Nolan duck walk.
Mark Oldham replaced Dan Byrne at left back.
Bruce Clarke came on for Hilton.
Moments later the Heath keeper was sent off for dissent.
On 90 minutes Newton Heath broke and a forward netted for 2-1 from 25 yards.
It set up a nervy four minutes of injury time. But Mellor's defence held firm.
Mellor now meet Rochdalians on May 7th at Chorlton and Didsbury's ground in the final.
Many congratulations to manager Si Dalby and his squad.