Photo: Dion Fountas

Josip Hercog

It was a hot day at Churchill Reserve in Round Two of the 2019 NPL2 West division as St Albans Saints played host to Moreland City. With the points eventually shared after the two-all draw.

It was a positive start by the hosts who created chances and had the ascendancy going forward in the early stages of the contest.

Matthew Cundari broke the deadlock for the Saints with his first of the season in the 37th minute as Deji Omoboye found the winger waiting at the top of the box and Cundari’s finish with the right boot had City’s goalkeeper, Kieran McDowell beaten.

While not only controlling the tempo of the game but also seeing more of the chances, the Saints took the one-nil lead into the halftime break and looked comfortable in defending it.

The second-half brought more of the same from the get-go with Moreland calming down with their challenges after seeing four yellow cards in the first half.

Two woodworks came for both teams and then it was Moreland who caught the Saint’s off guard with 15 minutes to go as substitute Osman Kose headed the ball into the goal equalising for the visitors.

After conceding one, the Saints conceded another just two minutes later as Moreland’s full-back Luke Higham orchestrated a one-two with Stelios Konstantinidis and on the return placed a left-footed strike past Gabriel Matti to give the visitors a surprising lead.

With the momentum shift, the Saints found themselves on the back foot as a one-nil lead turned to a two-one deficit within a blink of an eye.

Unable to regain the lead, the Saints did pull one back however after Cundari added to his tally when the winger was on the end of a loose ball in the 88th minute.

As the ball came in from the throw-in, Cundari pounced on the opportunity and headed past McDowell catching the Moreland defence off guard.

It was a good showing from both teams as the points were arguably deservedly shared.

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Post-Match Interview with Kruni Razov

JH: It was all looking positive and successful until a two-minute lapse of concentration cost the team two goals and eventually the win. What happened out there, and do you feel hard done by with the result?

KR: The boys worked really hard out there all day but unfortunately, they didn’t get the three points due to lack of concentration. It just shows you need to [stay] alert the whole game.

We’re all disappointed but we will grow from this. It was pleasing however, that we didn’t throw the towel in after the second goal.

JH: Stefan Baricevic has torn his meniscus from an incident in Round One. How much affect does this have on the squad and how long should we expect Baricevic’s absence to last?

KR: Stefan’s definitely an important part of our squad, there’s no doubt about that. He’s influential in the midfield but also vital at set pieces with his left foot.

At this stage we are looking at around 6-8 weeks absence. He is a loss, but we have enough quality and cover to get through and move on.

JH: Moving on to the next one is always a good policy, how does preparation change for Round Three in the big derby against North Geelong Warriors on Saturday after today’s result didn’t go to plan, and do results affect further match preparation going forward?

KR: Our preparation doesn’t overly change too much this week. It’s a short week and the temperature all week will be hot and even matchday they’re expecting 38, so we will freshen the boys up a little. We know how we want to play and how we want to do things out on the park.

Yes, it’s a derby and it’s a difficult place to go and get a result. However, I think the intensity and physical game we had on Sunday against Moreland, should put us in good order for what North Geelong have to throw at us.

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Other results – Round 2

NPL2 West NPL2 East
Moreland Zebras 2-2 North Geelong Warriors Eastern Lions 3-3 Bulleen Lions
Brunswick City 3-5 Werribee City Melbourne City Youth 6-2 Murray United
Ballarat City 3-1 Whittlesea Ranges Langwarrin 3-1 Northcote City
Geelong 3-0 Melbourne Victory Youth Manningham United Blues 1-2 Springvale White Eagles
Goulburn Valley Suns 0-1 Box Hill United

 

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