By Roanna Sanelli
Photo: Dion Fountas Photography

The St Albans Saints have drawn one all with the North Geelong Warriors at Churchill Reserve on Sunday afternoon.

The stage was set for another Croatian derby with both teams facing imminent relegation.

Yet a win for the hosts would give them the slightest hope of remaining in the NPL.

Luckily fortune appeared on their side with John Lazaridis and Nana Yaw both making a return to the starting line-up.

A minor tactical change saw captain Ryan McGuffie start in a midfield position with Joseph Monek and Matthew Cundari supporting striker Rodrigo Covarrubias on the flanks.

The visitors started slow but soon found their feet through precise man marking and pressure in all areas.

It was this strategic play which stunted the tempo of the host side whose space was severely restricted and their play plagued with mistimed errors.

Indeed, it was not long before the visitors took the lead with a header from a corner catching goalkeeper Nikola Kostadinovski off guard.

Dinamo responded with a Lazaridis free kick which narrowly missed the boot of Covarrubias.

However, it was again the visitors whom nearly doubled their advantage had it not been for Christopher Cristaldo who cleared the ball off the line and away from danger.

Despite the goal deficit, the hosts began the second in closed manner and were not able to maintain possession.

North Geelong were unlucky not to score their again with a shot directly in front of goal missing the inside of the right post.

The proximity of the miss prompted a swift double substitution for the hosts with Daniel Slovacek and Calvin Mbarga coming on for the Saints.

North Geelong appeared somewhat unsettled by the changes which was made evident by the brash tackle of Covarrubias in the area resulting in a penalty.

McGuffie converted from the spot to equalise the proceedings and give his side a necessary boost in morale.

Dinamo attempted to surge forward by any means and their close attempts travelled wide of the goals.

One final attempt was made by the visitors to snatch the victory in the concluding minutes of the match but it was not to be for the Warriors.

The result means Dinamo will return to the NPL2 next season despite there being two matches remaining of the NPL.


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