BENALLA is the latest club to withdraw from the Albury Wodonga Football Association’s senior soccer competition.
It has reduced the competition to 10 teams and the likelihood of two teams having a bye each round after Wodonga Heart withdrew three weeks ago.
The Rovers had planned an ambitious return to the top flight after a five-year hiatus but its club president Craig MacDonald made the “tough” call yesterday.
“I’m shattered,” he said.
“We felt we were in a position to re-enter the competition and expected that alone would attract players and provide the depth we need.
“But it just wasn’t enough.
“We are a small town and there is a drain of talent for those kids looking to further their education and looking for jobs — we lost four to university that would have been certain senior players from last year’s reserve squad.
“The plan now is to field a reserves side and an under-18s, the advantage with the reserves is there are unlimited interchange so some of the juniors can double up.”
MacDonald, who is also AWFA president, does not expect a new draw would be created for the competition.
Melrose playing coach Josh Fluss expects teams to adjust to the dual bye.
“Obviously it is not ideal, particularly at the start of the season when you are trying to get players match fit,” he said.
“We were going to play Benalla before Easter, so that alone is going to be a three-week break between games.
“But at the end of the day if you are not good enough for senior football then you shouldn’t be playing.”