A 93rd minute equaliser from substitute Alex Wilson earned Tigers FC a vital point, rescuing the league champions deep into stoppage time to earn a 2-2 draw with Belconnen United at McKellar Park.
The young defender snuck in unmarked at the back post, ghosting into the six-yard box to get on the end of a Daniel Sparrow free-kick and guide a bouncing ball past Alex Connell to steal a point.
It was particularly galling for the Blue Devils who had led the match twice, the first time nine minutes into the second half, following a goalless opening period, as Sparrow put through his own net, glancing a dangerous free-kick that was whipped into the box past his own ‘keeper.
Tigers levelled when Josh Gulevski found Julian Borgna inside the area and the forward forced his way past his marker to slide home, only for Belconnen to re-take the lead five minutes from time after the returning Juan Ospina netted. That might have been enough but for Wilson’s late, late intervention.
In the early kick-off West Canberra Wanderers earned their seventh point of the season after the drew 2-2 with second-placed Gungahlin United at Melrose Synthetic, with the Gunners forced to come from behind to gain a share of the spoils.
Dom Giampaolo struck twice for the Gunners, once in each half, showcasing his calmness in front of goal on both occasions, as the visiting side showed the kind of attacking prowess that has pushed them into title contention. And yet, as ever, the Wanderers fought hard and refused to buckle.
Angus Bailey drew the hosts level from the penalty spot twenty minutes in before an excellent move fifteen minutes later culminated in a first of the season for Jackson Paesler who arrived to slot home from inside the area.
The Wanderers also had to weather a ten-minute spell with no recognised goalkeeper, Jakeb Wiseman sent to the sin bin by the match officials and midfielder Shae Thornton forced to don the gloves for the intervening period.
Canberra Croatia took home the honours from the Croatian derby as they ruthlessly swept aside the challenge of O’Connor Knights triumphing 4-0 in front of a large crowd at O’Connor Enclosed.
The Knights went closest early on when Connor Mynott-Smith saw his effort clip the top of the crossbar but that was as good as it got for the Knights who were gradually ground down and then run roughshod over by a visiting team that is increasingly looking like champions in waiting.
Matej Busek had last scored against the Knights in the dramatic 3-2 win at Deakin Stadium and was back on the scoresheet in fine fashion, lifting a stunning free-kick over the Knights wall and high into the top corner giving the O’Connor custodian, Jack Miller, absolutely no chance.
A double from Jason Ugrinic after the break sealed the points, the forward reacting quickest to a loose ball in the area to bang home after his initial shot had come back off the post and then getting in behind the Knights defence to slip the ball past Miller and make it 3-0.
The visitors made it four, rubbing salt into the wound, when Nik Taneski broke away from a tiring defence and kept his head to slip home his first goal of the season, and maiden strike since his return to the club. Daniel Roberts was sent off late on after receiving a second caution.
A second half penalty from Darren Bailey secured an important 2-1 win for Monaro Panthers over Canberra Olympic in an exciting evening match to round out the round at the Riverside Stadium.
Bailey thumped home the spot-kick, at the same end he did for the West Canberra Wanderers from the spot earlier in the season, after the highly-impressive Zac McLaren was brought down inside the penalty area after out-foxing Nelson Curley.
If the winner was struck with power, the two goals that preceded it were something to behold. The opener, on the half-hour and finished by Nikos Kalfas was outstanding.
The Greek forward took possession at the angle of the penalty box an unleashed a missile of a strike that Sebastian Usai in the Olympic goal did well to get a hand to but could not stop it arrowing into the top corner for a sensational strike.
Olympic’s response was superb. Dave McCarron received a pass just inside the area, shifted it onto his left foot and hammered a drive beyond Jordan Thurtell in the Panthers goal that was still rising as it hit the back of the net.
Saturday 16 July
West Canberra Wanderers 2 (Bailey 20’ (p), Paesler 35’) Gungahlin United 2 (Giampaolo 8’, 49’)
Belconnen United 2 (Sparrow 54’ (og), Ospina 85’) Tigers FC 2 (Borgna 59’, Wilson 90+3’)
O’Connor Knights 0 Canberra Croatia 4 (Busek 37’, Ugrinic 49’, 65’, Taneski 72’)
Monaro Panthers 2 (Kalfas 30’, Bailey 78’ (p)) Canberra Olympic 1 (McCarron 41’)
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