A late own-goal has helped Olympic FC rescue a 1-1 draw from Palm Beach SC in a dramatic Grand Final rematch at Mallawa Complex on Saturday night.
Sharks defender Eoghan Murphy was sent off in the second half against his former side as a goal deep in either half saw the points shared on the Gold Coast.
Much of the first half failed to indicate what was to follow, with only half chances at either end.
The half was not entirely devoid of quality in front of goal though as Sharks captain Justyn McKay opened the scoring for the reigning PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland Champions.
A turnover in midfield allowed Sharks to break forward down the right and while the initial cross was intercepted, McKay was on hand to clinically bury his finish into the bottom corner and make it 1-0 on the stroke of half time.
Jarrod Kyle almost doubled the advantage when he flashed a shot wide shortly after the restart as the tempo began to lift.
Darren Gray went inches from an equaliser for Olympic on the next attack, poking Scott Bow’s cross at goal only to see his effort cleared off the line by Murphy.
The defender turned villain with around 15 minutes remaining when a skirmish with former teammate Matt Mundy saw Murphy shown a straight red.
That gave the visitors fresh impetus, introducing Mustafa Jafari off the bench in search of an equaliser.
The move paid off as last week’s goalscorer made a decisive impact, forcing an own goal after getting away from his marker on the right and squaring across the face in search of Rhys Meredith.
Sharks fought back with intent in the dying moments and twice had chances to win it, but were ultimately forced to settle for a point in their opening match of the season.
Olympic, meanwhile, are still chasing a first victory ahead of next weekend’s home match against Redlands United.
Palm Beach SC 1 (Justyn MCKAY 45’)
Olympic FC 1 (Own Goal 88’)