McGuffie penalty shoots down ZebrasThe Round Two clash between Moreland Zebras and St Albans Saints
The Round Two clash between Moreland Zebras and St Albans Saints looked destined for a draw before a late penalty converted by Ryan McGuffie sealed a 1-0 win for the visitors at CB Smith Reserve.
In a game contested by two teams touted early in the season as promotion candidates, neither side was willing to give much away, with long periods dominated by the respective defences.
The Zebras were coming off a 3-1 win against a Ballarat Red Devils side still slowly working their way into the season following the club’s recent governance issues, while St Albans had to settle for a 1-1 draw at home against the relegated North Geelong Warriors.
The hosts had the early ascendancy, with interplay between Nejc Kolaman and James Papadimitriou down the left leading to an effort by the forward which flashe wide.
The same wing was proving fruitful early, with a Baggio Yousif – fresh from his hat-trick aganinst Ballarat – chance saved from point blank range by new Saints custodian Alex Baird.
The early momentum then shifted towards St Albans, who fashioned a number of their own opportunities.
Josh Knight took a shot from distance that Stefaan Sardelic palmed away, with Joey Monek forcing a similar save minutes later after cutting in from the right.
Following the early flurry, the contest settled into a lull.
A few half chances involving Josh McGonagle-Ihasz saw the midfielder first burst through traffic before finding Yousif, who skied his shot.
McGonagle-Ihasz then had an effort on goal himself as Kolman teed him up for an effort that Baird held easily.
The second half again began with Moreland taking a few speculative shots on goal, as Dean Campelj headed the ball to James Kelly, whose long distance drive ultimately missed but left Baird in a momentary state of panic.
No such trouble for the custodian when Yousif was played through on goal, skewing his shot wide from an angle.
Papadimitrou was next, cutting off McGuffie’s pass in the defensive third before forcing a save.
Kolman then played a pass in to Papadimitriou whose deflected shot fell into the path of Yousif, but he blasted his shot over the bar.
The visitors’ substitutes Adrian Baressi and Barry Devlin began to make an impact on the contest with the game in the balance.
Monek found the former on the right wing, whose low cross was met at the back post by Devlin but missed from close range – albeit the linesman’s flag had been waved.
Baressi was in the thick of the action, getting in behind and again flashing the ball across the face again, though nobody was there to meet the ball.
With the game seemingly over, a penalty for a challenge in the box earned the visitors a late chance to nab the three points, with McGuffie confidently stepping up and making no mistake with the spot kick.
While the home side made a late push for an equaliser with a number of set-pieces and forays forward, the Saints’ backline stood strong to clear their lines each time.
Moreland Zebras 0 defeated by St Albans Saints 1 (McGuffie [p] 87′)
Moreland Zebras: 1. Stefaan Sardelic, 23. Dean Campelj, 24. Milos Tosic, 16. Mile Jedjedovic, 2. Liam Scott, 6. Brad Murray, 8. Josh McGonagle-Ihasz, 19. James Kelly, 10. Nejc Kolman, 11. Baggio Yousif, 14. James Papadimitriou
Substitutes: 21. Francesco Greco, 3. Johnny Crivelli, 17. Ryan Murray, 18. Habib Mohamed, 15. Vani Shamoon
St Albans Saints: 1. Alex Baird, 2. Ryan McGuffie, 3. Nana Yaw Otuo-Acheampong, 5. George Tsakalakis, 6. Nicholas Sarbin, 7. Trent Waterson, 8. Andrew Milicevic, 10. Josh Knight, 11. Joseph Monek, 18. Ben Shaper, 23. Ivan Skorich
Substitutes: Barry Devlin, 17. Adrian Baressi, 9. Tedros Yabio, 19. Rueben Quinn-Walters, 38. Eddy Murph