Photo: Dion Fountas

Josip Hercog

The St Albans Saints hosted Manningham United Blues for the first meeting between the two clubs in history. It wasn’t the best start or finish for the hosts’ as the Saints lost three-two after 90 minutes of football.

It kicked-off with a Jordan Wilkes own-goal ten minutes into the contest. As the ball headed towards the goal, Wilkes’ attempt to save the ball wasn’t successful and the visitors were up one-nil.

Adam Hodor made sure the lead didn’t last any longer than eight minutes as an 18th minute strike past Stefan Taleski equalised and brought the match back into balance.

Lucas Johns managed to peg the visitors in the lead once again five minutes later, as a strike was fired past Robert Santilli. The goalkeeper couldn’t do much about the effort as Manningham headed toward the break with a one-goal cushion.

If being down by one at halftime wasn’t ideal, being down by two was an even harder pill to swallow as Billy Romas fired Manningham into a three-one lead inside stoppage time. A second half of pressing and many chances awaited.

The only chance that managed to find the back of the net in the second half was Wilkes’ 90+3rd minute header, where the central defender made up for his earlier blunder. However, it wasn’t enough, and Manningham took the three points back to the East.

This weekend the attention turns to Round 20 which will leave eight remaining matches in the season. With over 25 points still on offer in this campaign, nothing is yet settled and any team can run away with the league-win and promotion into the 2020 NPL Victoria.

For the rivals, Moreland City are scheduled to host Ballarat City, Moreland Zebras travel to Brunswick City, whilst Werribee City will host Melbourne Victory.

This leaves the Saints with a massive task against sister-club North Geelong Warriors at Churchill Reserve on Sunday. The two teams faced each other back in March in Round Three of the competition. Elcho Park was the venue and the Warriors prevailed winning the match two-one.

Lochie McGrath opened the scoring within five minutes whilst Wilkes equalised in the 22nd minute. Anthony Banovac struck three minutes into the second half and that goal stood as the winner.

For the Saints it will be of upmost importance to be lethal on the defensive end and not let anything easy come through. Playing through the Warriors will be important as bypassing the midfield is never a good idea. The attackers will need to be clinical as the Saints can rekindle their season this Sunday.

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