It was far from pretty, but Albury United found a way to claim a 3-1 win against Albury Hotspurs at Jelbart Park on Sunday.
On an emotional day for the Greens, who paid tribute to club legend Les O’Brien after his sudden death on Friday, the players fought hard to get maximum points and remain a mathematical chance for the league title.
James Mason opened the scoring against the run of play for United in the 14th minute from an open break on the counter.
The lead was doubled shortly after half-time when Caleb Martin’s cross found the back of the net via a Hotspurs’ defender.
Jerome Dunphy ignited the visitors with a clinical finish in the 60th minute to pull it back to 2-1, but another defensive error handed Jayden Scammell the simplest of goals and allowed United to escape with a 3-1 triumph.
Greens’ coach Matt Campbell admitted the emotion surrounding the game played against his side in the early stages.
“We were a bit too fired up and lost our composure a little bit,” Campbell said.
“It was a scrappy game and wasn’t our best by any means, but I’m happy to get the win.”
Injury and illness weren’t kind to United either, with Josh Mulcahy ruled out on Saturday night, while Aidan Rees and Caleb Martin played, but were also under the weather.
“It was just about getting the three points and getting through the day, so in that respect, I’m happy with the result,” Campbell said.
“We played two or three guys out of position to cover for guys that were crook.
“Aidan Rees came off at half-time and Caleb Martin also came off late in the game.
“Hopefully those guys will be right for next week.”
However, on a positive note, Kris Wheeler played just his second senior game since suffering a head clash with teammate Ben Hughes against Boomers prior to the mid-season break.
“He’s had a few recurring issues, but he’s good now,” Campbell added.
“The test for him is to see how he pulls up over the next couple of days.”
Hotspurs’ coach Robert Tuksar admitted three mistakes cost them three goals.
“I said to the boys, we can't afford to make mistakes, we're not as strong as the sides that can cover up for it,” Tuksar said.
“They were clinical and we weren't.
“The boys are disappointed because we had big parts of that game, and, at 2-1, we were dominating.
“We conceded a bad goal and that just sucks the guts out of you as a team.
“That’s the difference between us and the top sides, they take their opportunities and win games when they’re not dominating.”
Dunphy was once again the shining light as he continued his stellar season.
“He’s very unselfish, he tried to create a couple of chances and they made a save on the line at 2-1 which would have made a big difference,” Tuksar said.
Despite the loss, a spot in the top eight is still up for grabs.
“If we don’t get a win out of the last two games, we don’t deserve to be there, it’s as simple as that,” Tuksar added.
“Our destiny is still in our hands, which is the good thing, but we can’t have any passengers.
“We’ve got to have 11 players playing well, otherwise we’ll get found out.”