By: Josip Hercog
PHOTO: Dion Fountas Photography
After a dismal performance last week, the St. Albans Saints showed character as they drew 2-2 with high flying and much more fancied Bentleigh Greens on a cold winter’s day.
Kruni Razov’s side started well, with returning midfielder Michael Grgic setting the tone for the rest of his side to follow with aggressive pressure on the Greens from the outset.
With a few early shots on target and blocked attempts from outside the box, it was Grgic that created the first clear cut chance, when the midfielder drove through the Green’s defence, only to be denied by a wonderful save by the visitor’s keeper.
Despite the early running and pressure, it was a route one clearance by keeper Aaron Romein that broke the deadlock in the 29thminute. The keeper saw the run of Joey Monek in behind the Green’s defence, and his 70 metre pass found the head of Monek, who glances home the opening goal of the match, to the delight of the home supporters.
It was the last meaningful attack for the first half, and the Saints should have doubled their lead inside the first minute of the second half, when a Daniel Slovacek corner was met by the head of skipper Ryan Mcguffie. The Scotsman’s header fell into the path of Grgic, who’s volley was well saved by the Greens keeper.
A minute later, and the match turned on its head. Bentleigh were awarded a free kick in a dangerous area, and Troy Ruthen drilled his shot low into the post and in for an unlikely equalizer on the balance of play.
That goal gave the visitors the confidence to go in search of another goal, which they nearly had in the 55th minute, but a correct offside decision and some inspirational defending by Nana Yaw kept the score at 1-1.
Joey Monek had two chances from difficult positions to give the Saints the lead once more, but it was a sucker punch by the Greens in the 71st minute that gave the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Not to be denied, the Saints continued to press and got their due reward in the 80thminute, when Matthew Cundari slipped through Monek, who slotted the ball across the face of the keeper to make it 2-2.
The Saints pushed on for the winner, but had to settle for a share of the points ahead of their next match away to Oakleigh Cannons this Friday evening. Kick off at Jack Edwards Reserve is at 8:30pm.