The drought is finally over for St Albans Saints in the National Premier League soccer.
The Saints ended 98 days without a win in a 2-0 triumph over Kingston City at Churchill Reserve on Sunday.
Saints coach Kruni Razov and his players were relieved to hear the referee’s whistle and see their side on the right side of the scoreboard for the first time since April 2.
“Got a win after a very long time – it’s fantastic,” Razov said. “It was a bit of a monkey off the back.
“We’ve been knocking on the door for a long time but it hasn’t been falling for us for some reason. It’s a great feeling, for the boys especially.”
Rodrigo Covarrubias put St Albans in the lead with a goal in the 38th minute.
You could sense an upset was brewing when the Saints went into half time holding that advantage.
The Saints were rarely threatened at the back with man of the match John Lazaridis, milestone man Ryan McGuffie, Joseph Monek and Nana Yaw Otuo-Acheampong resolute in their defending.
Saints goalkeeper Nicholas Kostadinoski, a mid-season acquisition, was only rarely called upon, but had all the answers.
“Kingston are very quick, very dynamic and we shut them down,” Razov said. “We tried to eliminate those areas where they could hurt us, especially out wide, and it worked.”
When you have only won once in the previous 20 games, no lead can be considered safe for St Albans.
Even with their control over the game, they gleefully accepted an insurance goal through Michael Grgic in 58th minute.
It allowed the Saints to settle the nerves and negotiate the final half hour without sweat.
“We were very good,” Razov said. “We took our chances today, which we haven’t been taking. We finished with a clean sheet, so it’s fantastic.”
It was St Albans’ first clean sheet since May 14.
The Saints had conceded 22 goals in the previous seven games.
Daniel Slovacek was impressive with his control in the midfield, while the speedy Calvin Mbarga had an impact up front when subbed on at half time.
It was the win that St Albans just had to have to salute the inspirational McGuffie in his 100th game for the club.
“We’re happy that we got the win for him,” Razov said. “He’s definitely a role model for our younger players, there’s no doubt about that. The way he addresses the players and does training sessions, the players all look up to him.”
St Albans has given itself a “glimmer of hope” of surviving after climbing off the bottom of the ladder.
The Saints are still eight points behind third-last Melbourne Knights with just five games to play, however the two sides will meet in the last round.
All the Saints’ focus will be on is their local clash with Green Gully Cavaliers at Green Gully Reserve this Saturday evening.
“It’s a big local derby for us,” Razov said.
In other top-flight games, Green Gully returned from Oakleigh Cannons with a point after a 1-1 draw on Friday night at Jack Edwards Reserve.
Daniel Jones scored an opportunistic equaliser in second half stoppage time for the Cavaliers.
Melbourne Knights went down 1-0 to ladder-leader Heidelberg United on Sunday.
The Knights, who still remain in the bottom three, will host long time rivals South Melbourne at Knights Stadium on Friday night.
In NPL2, Sunshine George Cross had a 1-1 draw with Richmond at Chaplin Reserve.