By Lance Jenkinson
A recurring theme for St Albans Saints late in the season was their incredible ability to win from large deficits with their backs against the wall.
So it was only fitting that the Saints had one more big comeback in them to clinch the National Premier League 2 title with a stupendous come-from-behind 4-2 win over Eastern Lions in the grand final at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night.
The past four wins of the Saints season came when facing a deficit.
The Saints simply don’t give in.
Saints coach Kruni Razov has overseen some quality football teams in his time, but none with a collective heart as big as the 2019 ‘comeback kids’.
“They just don’t quit,” Razov said.
“Their character and their heart to win games and their desire is just incredible.
“This would be one of the best teams that I’ve coached in terms of that never-say-die attitude.”
It was starting to turn ugly early on in the grand final for St Albans. Eastern Lions struck first blood through Dan Gathercole after just two minutes before Thomas Biss doubled the Lions lead in the 16th minute.
Aside from the deficit on the scoreboard, St Albans was undermanned with five first teamers unavailable. Instead of moping around the changerooms at half-time, the Saints players proactively sought a solution for their predicament before executing another miraculous comeback.
“I only spoke to them for about five minutes at half-time and then I left it to them,” Razov said.
“To the boys credit, they came back.
“These comebacks are just unbelievable.”
St Albans captain Michael Grgic led the charge.
Grgic struck twice to have the Saints back on level terms by the 63rd minute.
“He’s our go-to man,” Razov said.
“He started the season slow and he picked it up through the middle.
“His last eight to 10 weeks have been astounding.
“He finds himself in those areas, he gets those headers, his work ethic and he’s always getting those crucial goals.
“He’s really stepped up his game as a leader this year.”
Hernan Espindola scored to put St Albans in front in the 67th minute and then Joseph Monek rubbed salt into the Lions’ wounds with a game-sealer in the 83rd minute.
Razov was proud of the effort of his team, which relished the spoils of victory that came its way.
“You get a trophy, you get billboards, they make a big deal out of it,” he said. “To be crowned the best in NPL 2, it does mean a lot.”