NORTH Companions are into the Premier League preliminary final after pulling off an upset win over South Armidale in Sunday's minor semi-final in Armidale.
Cody Thompson proved the difference between the two sides, scoring the only goal for the match midway through the second half.
Northies coach Jackson Zifodya said the 1-0 scoreline "was all his side needed" to win.
"The goal came from a set-piece free kick and was good enough just to loop over the goalkeeper's head," Zifodya told the Leader.
"It was really a 50-50 game all day and it really could have gone either way.
"We are just very thankful that it went our way today [Sunday]."
Northies path to the minor semi-final was an uncertain one.
The side only claimed fourth spot after Oxley Vale Attunga lost its final round match to Tamworth FC at Scully Park.
"We were in limbo heading into the finals, not knowing if we would even be playing, but I was always confident we could go well if we were given the chance," Zifodya said.
"I think us just sneaking in and then winning a final goes to prove how tight this competition really is.
"There wasn't much separating us and South Armidale all season, and I think this result just further proves that anyone can win this year's grand final."
Zifodya said his side put in one of their "best defensive performances of the season" during Sunday's game.
"I was really impressed with the way we defended," he said.
"We gave Souths very few chances to score and we didn't let up all day.
"I would say that our defensive efforts were a real highlight of our performance."
The victory now sets up a preliminary final showdown between North Companions and North Armidale next Saturday at Bellvue Oval, with the winner progressing into the grand final to take on reigning premiers Tamworth FC on September 21.
"It's not ideal to have to play in Armidale two weeks in a row, but I don't think our guys are intimiated by it," Zifodya said.
"If anything, I think it will put more pressure on North Armidale because they will be playing in front of their home crowd.
"Either way, we are just really looking forward to the challenge."