The Alberton League senior footballers and officials were joined on the ground in their post-match celebrations by the triumphant Open netballers following a successful day of interleague action against the Riddell and District League at Romsey on Saturday. Photo by Chris Fleming – Midland Express.
By James Brosnan
ALBERTON’s senior interleague side came from 18 points down in the last quarter to run over Riddell and District by the barest of margins at Romsey on Saturday.
Alberton stormed home to hit the front, but then survived a late charge from Riddell to hold onto a memorable win in front of a big and enthusiastic interleague crowd.
A 100m penalty against Riddell gifted Alberton’s Paddy McKenna the game winning goal late in the final term.
With the difference in rules in the AFL Victoria Country Championships with six on the bench, Alberton fielded a very young side and rotated the bench heavily throughout the day.
The Romsey ground was in fantastic condition for the interleague bout, but a frantic start in perfect conditions failed to make any inroads on the scoreboard with both sides possibly too eager with the ball and making mistakes.
The respective backlines were rock solid and it took seven minutes for Alberton to have a real chance at the goals when Chris Urie missed everything on the run.
It took another five minutes of wild football before Dylan Clark was able to find some rare time with the ball through the middle of the ground to hit forward Luke Damon on the lead, who converted to give Alberton the early break.
Soon after Riddell had their first on the board through James Nolan, who was unattended in the goal square.
Alberton was wasting the ball across the half forward line with the Riddell defenders up to the task early.
Jason Wells was the beneficiary of another faultless pass from Clark with Wells kicking truly.
Beau Runnalls also marked easily thanks to a perfect Chris Urie pass and his goal from outside 50 put Alberton 11 points clear.
A costly turnover by Alberton in the middle of the ground exposed its defence who were helpless as Haydn Ross kicked a much needed goal into time-on.
Big Luke Damon restored a two-goal buffer for Alberton when he kicked a goal on the quarter time siren which looked to hand the visitors all the momentum at quarter time.
Costly mistakes and some great Riddell play had Alberton under immense pressure as the hosts rose to the challenge.
Riddell booted three goals in two minutes to claim the lead. Riddell’s key forward Matthew Davidson kicked two of the majors and looked unstoppable early in the second term.
Alberton weren’t handling the added pressure well and were struggling to find any rhythm moving into the forward half.
Luke Damon kicked a goal almost against the run of play to level the score, but when he booted his fourth at the 11 minute mark Alberton were back in front.
Both sides then had some impressive passages of play, but Riddell were wasteful in front of goal until James Wright put them back in front.
A 50m penalty to Chris Endres gifted Alberton a goal and the lead, which was extended when Michael Cooke finished a great passage of defensive play for Alberton.
A goal to Nolan, who was the best big man for Riddell, on the half time siren, cut the margin to two points in Alberton’s favour.
It was all Riddell who looked a superior side early in the third term.
Some more wasted opportunities from the hosts would come back to haunt them.
Nolan wasn’t only making an impression with the ball, but also steamrolled Alberton youngster Paul Pattison with a fair but hefty hit.
After being dazed by the bump for a short period of time, Pattison bounced back to be among Alberton’s best running through the midfield along with MDU’s Joel Sinclair.
Jaymie Youle was repelling countless pushes into the defensive half for Alberton, but Riddell were finally able to make the visitors pay with a goal through Ethan Foreman.
Some great play and skill from young ruckman Kurt Thomas and forward Michael Cooke allowed Matt Schreck to goal from 30m to keep Alberton in touch.
But Riddell weren’t done yet and goals through Nolan and Ross extended their margin back to 15 points, the later coming from a horror play from Alberton in which they lost a three on two contest in the middle of the ground.
Endres again goaled from a free kick before two misses from Damon and another from Clark came back to haunt Alberton when Riddell speedster Chris Petroro kicked a brilliant running goal.
Alberton were left reeling at the final change after Riddell forward James Nolan kicked truly to give the hosts an 18-point three quarter time advantage.
When it seemed like Riddell would just canter to the line in the final term, the game went to another level with Alberton bringing new levels of desperation to their work off the ball.
Clark laid a great rundown tackle but his good work wasn’t converted by Beau Runnalls – but it still reflected the increased intensity from the visitors.
The Phillip Island forward (Runnalls) made up for his miss soon after, kicking a major after he was spotted up by Paul Pattison who took a courageous mark on the forward flank.
Following a mark and goal from Riddell’s Davidson, Nolan had the chance to stretch the margin to as much as 22 points but sprayed his kick out on the full.
The Alberton midfield, led by Chris Endres and Ben Law then found another gear.
Michael Cooke was breaking away from his man and kicked two goals either side of one from Cam Stone who was coming into the game at the right time and suddenly Alberton stole the lead by two points.
With the game breaking open and the players tiring, mistakes were made at both ends of the ground but neither side was able to capitalise as Alberton trailed by four points into red-time.
Clark was outstanding all day but proved pivotal in two one on one contests on the outer wing, marking on two occasions at full speed under enormous pressure.
On one of these occasions, Luke Bowman was then able to find Endres who booted his third goal for the day to win back the lead at the 20-minute mark.
Desperate defence from Riddell came horribly unstuck when Paddy McKenna was awarded a free kick for a high tackle at half back as passion from players ran high.
A dispute from a Riddell player with the umpire cost his side two 50m penalties taking McKenna inside 50.
His goal gave Alberton a seemingly game winning lead of eight points 24 minutes into the final term.
From the resulting centre stoppage, Riddell cleared the ball and moved it forward for a behind.
The kick in from Alberton wasn’t a good one, finding Leigh Breenan who reduced the margin to one point.
With the crowd at fever pitch and wanting more, they were denied with the siren sounding as the ball was coming off the ruckman’s hands at the next stoppage.
Ben Law was awarded the best on ground medallion for the Alberton side before co-captains Jaymie Youle and Danny Wells collected the AFL Victoria Cup with coach Brett Beaumont.
The wins sees Alberton move to 26th on the AFL Victoria rankings and will take on the 25th ranked Loddon Valley Football League in the 2015 interleague championships.