WODONGA Diamonds made it the league and cup double with a 5-1 win over Myrtleford in what was a controversial finish to the Border soccer year yesterday.
A red card given to the Savoys’ English import Charlie Romain after 30 minutes resulted in the need for security guards for the referee and spectators behind the goals.
The crowd was divided over the incident that left Diamonds keeper Cam McCormack on the ground — those closest to the action saying there was no contact, others believing it was a head-butt.
Click on the video below for footage of the incident. (iPhone users go to Video tab in Menu.)
But after consulting both lines officials and with the advice from the fourth official back on the halfway line, the referee pulled out the red card.
At the time Diamonds were ahead 1-0 courtesy of Nagus Henry’s clinical finish of an opportunistic chance on 24 minutes.
Two minutes after the red card the English striker was at it again pouncing on a chance to make it 2-0.
Not to be outdone, Myrtleford’s striker and competition star player Dan Summers took a ball on his chest before rifling a shot into the back of the net from 25 metres to reduce the deficit to 2-1 at half-time.
The Savoys had their chances early in the second half before the flood gates opened on 75 minutes — first Michael Morley and two minutes later Henry again before Paul Brunec finished the job with 15 minutes to go.
Diamonds left-back Jesse Stephens, who played his junior football with Myrtleford, was a deserved man of the match.
His battle with Nathan Mirt a highlight as he snuffed out attacking raids and launched repeated counter attacks.
Diamonds captain Dan Millynn was another standout in his battle with Summers.
“It has been a longtime between winning the double, we are going to enjoy this,” he said.
“There is always one game in the finals when you are below par and for us that was last week and there is no secret now that there were a number of us carrying injuries.
“At the end of the day we got lucky with a red card but that’s football.
“Nagus Henry was great up front, Jarrod Herzina too, everyone did their job.”
Coach Jimmy Bell said Diamonds still had a job to do even after the red card.
“We proved today that we had the team — fair enough they went down to 10 men but that doesn’t always make it easier, there is the possibility that you can get complacent and as Summers showed you can’t relax against Myrtleford.
“But we had a good talk at half-time and they played to the script and finished off.
“I didn’t see the red card but these things happen — you win some, you lose some.”
Myrtleford coach Michael Sacco was too disappointed to talk but manager Joe Arcuri labelled the send-off ridiculous.
“We are extremely disappointed to end like that after having put a lot of time and effort into the season only to stumble at the final hurdle again,” he said.
“Charlie’s red card was a ridiculous decision and was made by the fourth official for rough play but he says there was nothing in it.
“It put us behind the eight-ball and with 10 men we were chasing the game but full credit to Diamonds they were good today.”
Man of the match Stephens said he was shocked to get the gong.
“At the start of the year we were leaking goals all over the place but then it just clicked,” he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier comments on this story attributed to Scott Kidd have been removed. They were not made by the former coach of Albury United.