Josip Hercog

Churchill Reserve played host to the 2019 St Albans Saints Dinamo Junior Gala Day on Saturday, where the Saints were joined by Melbourne Knights, Dandenong City, North Geelong Warriors and Strathmore Split junior teams.

A staggering 39 junior boy’s teams participated across age groups containing Under 7’s through to Under 11’s, accompanied by six Under 12 girls’ teams.

The main-event of the fun-filled day was an exhibition match between the Under 16 girls’ teams of St. Albans Saints and Dandenong City in which the hosts prevailed, winning five-four after 90 minutes of tough contested football.

City got off to a perfect start as Ataylia Melkić gave the visitors an early lead as she found the back of the net just eight minutes into the contest. Saints’ Ivana Čuić managed to equalise just eight minutes later.

With the contest nearing the end of the first-half the one-all score-line looked set in stone until Saints’ Abbi Pavlinušić snuck the hosts a lead with a minute to go until the break.

The crowd was satisfied with the effort from the girls however, no one could’ve predicted what was awaiting the contest in the second-half.

City came out of the blocks firing in the second period through Nicole Muscat who equalised just three minutes after the break, to then take a three-two lead after 51 minutes of play and secure herself a brace, converting a penalty for the visitors.

With the score at three-two for the visitors, the Saints had no thought of giving up. It was Ava Bačić-Smith who equalised for the hosts in the 63rd minute and to the crowds enjoyment, left the final 25 minutes with everything to play for.

As the clock ticked into the final 15 minutes, the match was about to see three goals in five minutes to give the match an ending everyone was hoping for.

The first came from the Saints as Pavlinušić doubled up her tally in the 76th minute. The Saints’ lead was then cut short instantaneously.

The 78th minute saw City’s Elena Kanye-Aguirre equalise and make the entertaining match even more so, as she made it four-all.

However, the hosts managed to celebrate eventually as the girls in blue were rewarded with a penalty of their own with ten minutes to play. Up stepped Čuić to secure her brace and a five-four win for the Saints.

The match proved to be of main-event calibre with a massive showing of support for the girls who will both be competing in this years’ Sportsmart Girls’ Metropolitan Under 15-16A League.

The day was also helped on by Klapa Samoana and Gavrani Band alongside numerous volunteers all around the grounds.

St Albans Saints would like to thank everyone for their help on such a successful day and wish all of their junior teams the best for their forthcoming seasons.

*The Saints’ Under 15-16A Girls’ host the Essendon Royals on Sunday at Churchill Reserve for Round One, with kick-off set for 09:00. Full fixtures can be found here:

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