Albury United are AWFA league champions 2022.

21 AUGUST 2022

Albury United remain on course for an historic treble after clinching the league title on Sunday.

The FA Cup winners added the Division 1 championship to their roll of honour with a 2-0 win away to Myrtleford.

Two goals in the space of 60 seconds at the end of the first half ultimately decided matters on a difficult playing surface at Savoy Park.

Fit-again Ryan Luty, playing his first game since April, had a penalty saved but bundled in the rebound before Aidan Rees pounced to convert a left-wing cross.

Myrtleford threw everything at United in a tense second half but the men in green and white held firm to keep the clean sheet they needed to finish above Cobram.

“It’s quite emotional,” coach Matt Campbell admitted after the game.

“It’s reward for hard work.

“The comp’s pretty even this year; the top three teams – Cobram, Wang and us – have been been pushing each other all year and at different stages, Myrtleford and Boomers were there too.

“Every coach wants to win with five games to go but we had to do it on the last day, and it was ugly as hell.

“The pitch wasn’t ideal, it didn’t allow either side to play and we could have adjusted better to it in the second half.

“But to have those good teams pushing us, and the kick in the guts down in Cobram when we thought we didn’t put our best foot forward, it was about keeping a clean sheet here and the guys did well to score a couple right before half-time.

“That set us up for the second half and naturally, you’re going to try to defend and hang on to that.

“Everyone did their bit but if you’re going to pick someone out, that was a gutsy effort by Ryan Luty.

“Even a month ago, he was still walking around in a moon boot and had basically put a line through his season but he said ‘let’s just see’ and then he rolled out to training 10 days ago and now he’s scored a vital goal and played a big role in us winning.”

The return of experienced trio Caleb Martin, Ben Hughes and Sam Mason, plus the inclusion of Luty, was a huge pre-match boost to United but the tension of the final day shootout quickly became evident.

Martin and Jordan Hore both tested Savoy keeper Jacques Simian, who was almost left red-faced when a bobbling backpass rolled under his boot and nearly trickled in.

Luty, having been clattered by Brayden Gasperotti moments earlier, stepped up when ref Daniel Moore awarded a penalty for handball in the 41st minute.

Simian kept out Luty’s tame effort, only to lose his bearings on the goal line, and with the ball spinning free behind him, Luty followed in to score.

A minute later, it was 2-0. Myrtleford failed to deal with Ramesh Basnet’s cross from the left, Rees touched the bouncing ball beyond Simian and slammed it into an open goal.

That cushion calmed the nerves among United’s sizeable travelling contingent on the sidelines but a nervy 45 minutes still lay ahead.

The Savoy, guaranteed to finish fourth whatever the result, had nothing to play for but it certainly didn’t look that way as they threw the kitchen sink at the visitors in the second period.

It was all hands to the pump for United and had William Osborn been able to finish after running clean through, the last half-an-hour would have been even more fraught.

As it was, the savoy failed to turn their possession into clear-cut chances, with Tom Laspina’s header over the closest they came to scoring.

Basnet and Hore missed late chances at the other end but it mattered not as the final whistle blew to signal United’s first outright championship since 2015.

“The coaches we’ve got have been fantastic,” Campbell said.

“Ryan, our ressies coach, all year has just said ‘you take whoever you need to win it.’

“Elliot Jones and David Smith are first-rate. To have them throwing their opinions in, helping to make the vital decisions and particularly with selection, it hasn’t been easy this week so it’s good to have them to bounce it off.

“I’m rapt for everyone.”

United now face Twin City Wanderers in the quarter-finals at Jelbart Park East next Sunday, with Campbell and his players daring to dream of turning their double into a treble.

“We’ve only mentioned it a couple of times during the year,” Campbell said.

“Just before the FA Cup final, there was a bit of talk that ‘if we win this, we’re the only ones who can win the treble’ and it will probably be mentioned a little bit this week.

“It doesn’t stop, and we’ll be straight back into training, but why not?

“It’s three games so if we can get it right and get all the guys recovered and ready to go, I think we’ll give it a good shake.”

The other quarter-finals will see Cobram face Melrose at Aloysius Park, Wangaratta take on Albury City at Glen Park and Myrtleford go up against Boomers at Jelbart Park West.

  • Party time in the visitors rooms at Savoy Park. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Party time in the visitors rooms at Savoy Park. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE