St Albans Saints have rewarded their diehard fans with a 1-0 win over Port Melbourne Sharks in their last home game of the National Premier League Victoria season at Churchill Reserve on Sunday.
The Saints were officially relegated before a ball had been kicked, due to third-last Melbourne Knights claiming all three points over bottom-of-the-ladder North Geelong Warriors on Friday night, so it was all about personal pride and giving the loyal supporters a little bit of cheer before returning to NPL2.
“It was the last home game of the season, so it was a good one to get for the supporters,” Saints coach Kruni Razov said.
“To go into the game with nothing but pride for the club, it was a good result for the boys.”
Hernan Espindola put St Albans in front in the 40th minute.
A well-worked piece of play that went through the feet of Christopher Cristaldo and Luis Covarrubias found its way to Espindola near the penalty spot.
After one touch, Espindola fired a shot low and hard and into the bottom right corner.
“The keeper had no chance,” Razov said.
“It was a good finish.”
The bulk of the first half was a tight and scrappy affair. Neither side had too many clear-cut chances with St Albans holding on to the one-goal lead at half-time.
After the break though, the game opened up, with the Saints pressing hard for an insurance goal, only to draw blanks.
St Albans did not need another goal because its defence was impenetrable.
The Saints’ back four of Ryan McGuffie, Ben Shaper, John Lazaridis and Michael Grgic were not fazed by whatever was thrown at them by the Sharks attackers.
“They were pressing and pushing all the way to the final whistle,” Razov said.
It was just St Albans’ third win of the season.
The Saints will be keen to make it four when they face Melbourne Knights in the local derby at Knights Stadium on Sunday.
“We’re probably five kilometres apart,” Razov said.
The Knights go into the game on the back of a 4-1 win over North Geelong that officially locked them into a promotion-relegation playoff with the third-placed NPL2 team.