Photo: Dion Fountas

Josip Hercog

Churchill Reserve played host to Round Four action in the 2019 NPL Two West Division as the St Albans Saints managed to steal a two-one win in the dying moments of the contest against the Moreland Zebras.

Both teams suffered defeats last week and desperately needed a win to keep up with the pace setters of the league Werribee City.

It was a cautious beginning to the contest with neither team risking too much due to the importance of securing a result after 90 minutes.

Notable changes to the Saints line-up saw the inclusion of Joseph Monek and Nana Yaw into the starting line-up with Deji Omoboye ruled out completely and David Simms settling onto the bench.

With the tie nearing halftime, the match began to open-up in the final ten minutes of the first-half with the contest becoming an end-to-end battle between the two teams with the likes of Matthew Cundari, Domenic Falla and Michael Grgic working tirelessly to gain control of the tempo in midfield.

With the result all-square at the break, the visitors were forced to substitute goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers off for Jack West-Astuti in an unlikely turn of events.

The visitors were then once again forced to make a substitution in the 62nd minute as Tremayne Sadler was forced off in a similar situation when he was replaced last week against Brunswick City for an injury. On came Maksim Illic to replace the defender.

Illic was faced with the task of containing Monek and the battle on the Saints’ left-wing quickly became an important one as the two youngsters were on each other’s tails from the get-go.

The Zebras eventually found the back of the net after a 72nd minute free-kick delivery found its way deep into the box and an oncoming Jakob Williams headed to give the visitors a lead against the run of play.

Needing a quick reply, Cundari and Monek turned on the jets as the two combined twice in a minute with the first effort going wide and the second resulting in a penalty after the latter was brought down inside the penalty area by initial goal scorer Williams.

Monek’s penalty with five minutes to go in the contest was tucked away and the Saints set off en-route to victory.

With the seconds ticking away inside stoppage time, Monek was brought down 25-yards from goal and a free-kick was awarded for the hosts.

A left-foot delivery found Anthony Kataforis at the back post who leapt over the Zebras defence to award himself with the match winner and secure the Saints an important three points.

The Saints defended the lead in the time that remained and secured their second victory of the season.

Next weeks’ challenge for Kruni Razov’s men will once again be at home as they host Brunswick City who have only one win this season and four points. Kick off for the contest is set for 15:00.

Other results – Round 4

NPL2 WestNPL2 East
Brunswick City 2-2 Melbourne Victory YouthEastern Lions 2-1 Box Hill United
Ballarat City 1-4 North Geelong WarriorsMelbourne City Youth 1-1 Springvale White Eagles
Werribee City 2-0 Whittlesea RangesLangwarrin 4-1 Bulleen Lions
Geelong 1-0 Moreland CityManningham United Blues 4-5 Goulburn Valley Suns
Northcote City 3-1 Murray United

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