Victory through to Cup GF

Melbourne Victory have made it to their first Pre-Season Cup Grand Final after scoring a 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets in the final round of the group stage at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Melbourne Victory have made it to their first Pre-Season Cup Grand Final after scoring a 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets in the final round of the group stage at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The win sees Melbourne finish the 2008 Pre-Season with two wins and a loss and, more importantly, a Grand Final berth after Adelaide United and Perth Glory played out an uninspiring goalless draw in Mount Gambier.

Meanwhile, the result left the defending Hyundai A-League champions with two draws and a loss for the competition.

The Victory deserved the win after having the best of the chances with new signing Tom Pondeljak, who added some extra spark from the bench after half-time, scoring the winning goal in the 82nd minute.

The first real chance of the game came in the 15th minute when Melbourne defender Michael Twaite almost steered the ball into his own goal from a swinging Kaz Patafta 30-metre free kick. Victory keeper Michael Theoklitos pulled off a great save from the ensuing corner after a deflected Matt Thompson piledriver from the edge of the area.

The Victory had a great opportunity just moments later when youngster Evan Berger slipped past Tarek Elrich and sprinted inside the box but Jets goalie Ante Covic was up to the task and picked up Berger's deft side-foot stab.

Covic pulled off another reflex save when he kept out a stinging shot from Victory's Brazilian import Ney Fabiano, whose presence up front was causing plenty of headaches for the Jets' defence.

Melbourne started to take control of the match and only good defence kept them scoreless. Midfielder Matthew Kemp headed over the bar from a corner before Ney Fabiano and Carlos Hernandez worked a move that saw the Costa Rican swing a shot to the far top corner of the net, only for Covic to pull off a great diving save.

Tempers stared to flare close to half-time with the Jets' new Danish signing Jesper Hakansson earning a yellow card for a heavy tackle on Hernandez, Covic seeing yellow for dissent and Matthew Kemp copping one for rough defence but the score remained locked at 0-0 at the break.

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond changed his team's formation at half-time going to a three-man defensive line and pushing Elrich up the field to give the Jets more width in the middle of the park.

But it was Melbourne which again had the better of the running with Nathan Elasi, who replaced Ney Fabiano at half-time seeing his low shot bounce off the right post and Pondeljak, who came on for Danny Allsopp, denied by a good save from Adam Griffiths after Covic was caught out of goal.

The Jets worked their way back into the match with Adam D'Apuzzo spraying his shot over the top and Hakansson pushing his close-range shot wide after a pinpoint cross from Elrich on the right wing.

Hernandez went perilously close to breaking the deadlock in the 75th minute with a vicious swinging 30-metre free kick only to be denied by another fantastic diving save from Covic.

Melbourne eventually found the goal they deserved in the 82nd minute when Pondeljak latched onto a long ball from Hernandez and fired a shot high into the top right corner of the net from 12 yards.

Joel Griffiths almost pulled out a draw for Newcastle with a remarkable free kick from 35 yards that clipped the intersection of the right post and the cross bar with Theoklitos beaten all ends up.

Newcastle Jets 0 Melbourne 1 Pondeljak 82 at Port Macquarie Regional Stadium Crowd: 3133