Melton Phoenix’s FFA Cup campaign is over in the second qualifying round after a thrilling match against White Star Dandenong on Saturday.

After twice fighting back to level the scores, the Phoenix was finally undone by an unsuccessful penalty shoot-out.

Phoenix trailed 2-0, before levelling the scores early in the second half.

In extra time, Dandenong again hit the front with a goal in the 95th minute, before Jason Hill levelled the scores again five minutes later.

With scores equal at the end of extra time, Phoenix lost the penalty shoot-out 6-5.

Speaking before the match, Phoenix coach Mark Parnis said the FFA Cup was a good opportunity to get some match practice in before the FFV state league 5 west season.

“We go into the FFA Cup with eyes wide open,” he said. “If we win, we get another competitive game. If not, we reassess and look to round one.”

Bringing through the next generation will be a big focus for Parnis this season, with a number of young players joining the club.

He said players knew there would be opportunities to play senior football if they put in the hard work.

“It’s not the full side playing … there’s a lot of young kids that are coming through who want to play senior football,” he said.

“I know some of these players have bright futures. There will be a lot of competition for spots.

“People know that I’m going to give young players a go.

“It’s not a matter of just going with youth … we have a base of older players.

“The young guys who are coming through will eventually take their spots.”

Parnis said he had been happy with the team’s pre-season, which had included a training camp in Bendigo. He said he hoped that would flow on to the start of the FFV season, and so avoid the sort of slow start the side experienced last season.

Parnis said he expected the side to be better than last year’s eighth place.

“We’re looking to be a little bit better than last year,” he said.

“As long as everyone is on the same page, we’ll do better.

“We’re not looking to have a slow start and we want promotion.

“We think we have the boys that can do the job if we don’t have injuries and can keep them on the park.

“Realistically, you have to play well every week to push to the top with only one team getting promoted this year.”

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