Albury City capped off the perfect season in the AWFA senior women’s competition with a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Wangaratta in the cup final at Jelbart Park on Sunday.
The undefeated league champions bounced back from the heartbreak of last season’s cup final defeat to complete the double in stunning fashion.
Zoe Jackson’s second goal of the day less than three minutes into extra time sealed the result for City, but it was far from easy.
Bella Gigliotti’s long range effort put Wangaratta in front in the 11th minute and the advantage was soon doubled as Christina Mancuso pounced on a loose ball in the box in the 22nd minute.
City finally found a response when Jackson tapped in at the back post, before Wangaratta was controversially denied a third right on the half-time whistle.
Star striker Bianca Mulqueen produced a moment of individual brilliance to find the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed as the referee had called half-time as she struck the ball.
Mancuso was forced to leave the field early in the second half with a knee injury and City lifted as a result.
The league champions dominated possession, but found it difficult to break down the Devils’ defence, before Star Player Bridget McDiarmid slipped through and tucked away the equaliser with less than five to play.
Wangaratta goalkeeper Jacinta Findlay denied Montanna Mathews in stoppage time, but she wasn’t to be stopped in golden goal.
The 15-year-old made a dashing run and crossed the ball to Jackson who converted at the back post to complete the comeback.
City defender Emily Williams was named best on ground.
“There was some nerves seeing as we went down in last year’s final,” Williams said.
“There was a bit of pressure going in, but it faded as soon as we got one goal in and the hope came back.
“Everyone worked hard at the end of the day and we ended up winning, so we’re not complaining.”
Jackson was delighted after scoring the winner.
“We got taken down last year, but we wanted it this year more than ever,” Jackson said.
“There was only five minutes left and I didn’t think we were going to get there, but Bridget scored like the incredible player she is.
“Last year we were unbeaten the whole season and got to the final and lost to Boomers.
“We deserved this one and it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Wangaratta coach Tom Marshall was gutted to lose, but couldn’t fault the effort.
“It hurts more than I thought because we had five minutes to go and we were cruising really,” he said.
“We were very disappointed that the goal at half-time was disallowed, we feel that whistle was blown after the ball was kicked.
“I think we dominated that game in the first half and the second half we soaked up a lot of pressure.
“To lose it in golden goal is terrible, but the girls were fantastic and Leanne Branson was absolutely superb.
“They’re a great side, they’re a champion side and that’s what they do to you, they come back at you.”
Marshall added it was some of the best women’s football he’d seen in the AWFA and it deserved to be played immediately before the senior men’s final.
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