Brisbane Strikers fought from two goals down to share the points with league-leaders Moreton Bay United at Wolter Park on Saturday night.
Former Strikers players Royce Brownlie and Jackson Hall guided Jets to a two goal advantage early in the second half, however the visitors bounced back courtesy of replies from Jheison Macuace and Apai Ukuno.
The result sees Jets maintain their two point advantage over Strikers atop the PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland standings, however means the league-leaders have not beaten Strikers in three meetings in all competitions this year.
Played at a frenetic pace throughout, Strikers’ Trent Clulow fashioned the first clear-cut opportunity of the match when he shot over the bar from the edge of the penalty area inside five minutes.
However, the hosts made the most of their early opportunities and grabbed the lead just after the quarter hour when Charles Mendy set-up Brownlie, who delivered a deflected finish to take his season’s tally to 12 goals.
Strikers duo Clulow and Josh Ahern both shot over the bar as the visitors sought a reply, while Jets’ Liam Previtera also missed the target from distance for the hosts.
Jets held their lead into half-time courtesy of solid saves from goalkeeper Luke Borean, who denied testing efforts from Macuace, Josh McVey and Michael Angus in the final ten minutes of the half.
The hosts repaid their goalkeeper’s heroics immediately after the restart when Hall doubled the advantage with a well-placed angled finish less than a minute into the second half.
However, Strikers’ comeback started almost immediately as Macuace halved the margin in spectacular fashion – delivering an overhead finish for his 13th goal of the league campaign.
The side’s exchanged further chances approaching the hour as Mendy forced a strong save from Strikers’ gloveman Fraser Chalmers before Borean denied McVey one-on-one with a smothered stop.
Strikers found the equaliser on 72 minutes via substitute Ukuno – the mid-season recruit heading home from point-blank range amidst a goal-mouth scramble for his first ever PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland goal.
Jets’ Stephen Green missed the chance to restore the host’s advantage with a headed attempt before Clulow also failed to find the target with a free-kick.
Clulow saw a final chance in time added on to secure Strikers the win but sent his shot wide.
Speaking post-match, Jets’ coach Adam Piddick described the result as “bitter-sweet” but said the draw was the fair result.
“When you come up against a good side you’re not going to get everything your own way,” Piddick explained.
Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans suggested his side had deserved the point despite conceding the first two goals.
“There was a lot of good in our play and we’re disappointed with the goals that we conceded,” A’herne-Evans said.
Moreton Bay United FC 2 (Royce BROWNLIE 17’, Jackson HALL 46’)
Brisbane Strikers FC 2 (Jheison MACUACE 49’, Apai UKUNO 72’)