PORT Saints twice came from behind to snatch a thrilling Football Mid North Coast Premier League grand final victory in golden goal extra time on Saturday.
Saints won 3-2 at Regional Stadium over Camden Haven Redbacks thanks to a winning header from Dan Gardner. It went with goals to Aaron Oppedisano and Tayfun Devrimol.
It was fitting that Gardner scored the winner. He's a club stalwart, and has played for the Saints since the under eights.
He rose higher than anyone else in extra time to put a corner from Saints captain Anthony Jamieson.
It sparked wild celebrations for the Saints and their supporters at the ground. It could have been so different on the day. The Redbacks had the run of play for much of the match.
They didn't let Saints find any rhythm for most of the first half.
Daniel Trompert and Rob Holland scored goals for the Redbacks. Trompert could have had two, and the second would have almost certainly sunk Saints, but the ball came back off the crossbar. Another Haven goal was ruled out for offside.
Oppedisano also could have had a second goal, but his header went agonisingly wide in the first half.
His goal in the second half lifted Saints, before Holland's strike put Camden Haven on the front foot again.
Devrimol nodded home a close range goal after plenty of action in the Redbacks' box.
Oppedisano's shot was blocked before a neat chip from Matt Goodwin came back off the bar.
Devrimol was first to react, and his teammates jumped all over him.
That reaction was second only to Gardner's goal.
He knew where it was going as soon as he hit it with his head.
Gardner said he was lucky to get a clear path to the ball.
"I felt like I was floating," he said. "I made the run and then as I came back in I saw it [a gap] open.
"No one in front of me got the ball."
He doesn't score all that often, and Gardner was lost as to how to celebrate the goal.
"I didn't know what to do," he said.
It was the best moment of his Saints career.
He was glad a United move to play with his friends back in juniors was a short lived one.
"I was too young to know loyalty then," Gardner said.
Saints coach Tony Judge lauded his team's ability to stick it out when the going was tough and the opposition was on top.
There was fortune in the first two Saints goals.
Oppedisano's shot got a lucky bounce to beat Aaron Bailey on its way into the net.
Devrimol was lucky to get the bounce off the bar.
"You've got to put yourself in the right places to get that luck as well," Judge said.
Judge hailed Chris Newbound as a hero between the sticks. He was forced to do plenty of work for Saints.
"The effort of his and the saves he made, and just his general calmness, was impressive," Judge said.
"A couple of early, good catches settled his nerves and he was right from there."