Calder Cannons left it to the dying seconds to seal victory against Northern Knights in TAC Cup action on Saturday.
Under the pump all day, the Cannons hung in against the higher-ranked Knights and trailed by a goal in the dying minutes.
A free kick to Jesse Firebrace in the forward 50 gave the Cannons the match and kept their finals hopes alive.
“We got a free just before the siren,” Cannons coach Andrew Johnstone said.
“With a bit of wind behind him, Jesse kicked through the ball and got the goal. The siren went before the ball went back to the middle.
“He was pretty excited after kicking it.”
The Cannons took the win 7.10 (52)-6.10 (46).
For Johnston the win was a bonus – he was impressed by how well the side had handled adversity.
“We played three quarters with only two players on the bench and had a couple of players playing on one leg,” Johnston said.
“Jack Evans came off in the first quarter and Shane Skidmore didn’t come back on after quarter-time.
“The result didn’t matter, it was the way they pushed through and were really resilient and the effort was pleasing.
“The result though was really good.”
Lucas Cavallaro was named the Cannons best, while skipper Brad Bernacki was prominent.
Ben Huggard and Jack Bytel kicked two goals each for the Cannons.
The win leaves the Cannons sitting only percentage out of the top eight with three rounds remaining.
For Johnston the next three rounds are about continuing to build on what they’ve been doing this season.
“We’ve just got to keep playing good football and we’re coming against some good sides,” he said.
“The Western Jets knocked off Oakleigh … Ballarat will have their private school boys back, and we know that Eastern is a talented side. We’ve got our private school boys back so we’re pretty much at full strength for the last three games.”
The Cannons face Eastern Ranges next week.
The Knights remain in seventh position, six points clear of eighth-placed Gippsland Power and the Cannons.
Jamison Shea was the best forward on the ground kicking three goals for the Knights.Nicholas Coffield, Mark Baker and Ethan Penrith were named the best in the loss.
The Knights face Western Jets next week.