Melton RFC coach relishing higher league test in cup final

Melton player-coach Gareth Collins has overseen two championships since taking charge at Melton RFC in the summer of 2014 EMN-170301-165240002

Melton player-coach Gareth Collins has overseen two championships since taking charge at Melton RFC in the summer of 2014 EMN-170301-165240002

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Melton RFC head coach Gareth Collins is happy his side will face more higher league opposition in the County Senior Cup final in May.

Collins’ side were big underdogs when they arrived at Welford Road last year to take on Hinckley, newly-promoted to National League Two.

But Melton, who had just won the Midlands Two East (South) title, hung on and snatched an epic win with virtually the last kick of the match.

Once more they will face National League Three (Midlands) opponents, but with Syston bottom of the league, and Melton sixth in the division below, just a handful of places separate the sides this time around.

“It’s excellent to be there again,” Collins said. “We are hugely excited about the final and glad that we get to face the highest-ranked side in the competition on the biggest stage again.

“We know it will be tough, especially given that they beat Lutterworth in the semi who are a good side, however we will be confident we can make a very good account of ourselves again.”

The player-coach led from the front last year to help Melton lift the cup for the first time, but his latest serious knee injury means he will have to mastermind things from the touchline this time around.

The dugout certainly wasn’t always a comfortable place to watch on Friday as Melton were pushed all the way by Oadby in the last four.

“It was indeed a tough game, but nothing that we didn’t expect,” Collins added.

“We were hugely dominant in the game, in terms of possession and territory, but credit to Oadby Wyggs for hanging in there first half and then pushing us closer late on.

“I must say I never felt we were going to lose the game, but the last few minutes were pretty nerve-racking!”