Brisbane Strikers scored twice in the dying minutes to edge out Western Pride 3-2 at Perry Park on Saturday night.
Pride’s Harrison Sawyer and Strikers’ Trent Clulow both struck early goals, before Cameron Kleinhans strike early in the second half again edged Pride ahead.
However, dramatic late goals from Scot Coulson and debutant Fraser Hills ultimately saw Strikers claim all three points in front of their home crowd for the first time this season.
Striker captain Jonti Richter delivered the opening salvo only minutes into the contest, volleying over the crossbar for the hosts.
Sawyer went one better only two minutes later from a Pride breakaway, his finish getting a touch from Strikers goalkeeper Michael Turnbull before nestling in the back of the net.
Strikers attacker Jheison Macauce was denied twice in quick time as he sought the equaliser for the hosts – his tenth minute header cleared off the line by Lincoln Rule before seeing a further attempt smothered by goalkeeper Bon Scott two minutes later.
Scott was proving hard to beat until Trent Clulow found the equaliser just before the half hour – delivering a stunning 20 yard volley to record his first ever PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland goal.
Strikers continued to see the better of the chances as Gabriel Haworth twice cleared shots off the line as the half drew to a close, however there was a significant blow for the hosts as captain Jonti Richter limped off with a suspected anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Despite the momentum being with the hosts, Pride delivered a sucker punch shortly after the restart to regain their lead as Kleinhans slid in at the back post to turn home a cross.
Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans rang the changes in search of an equaliser but the hosts continued to be frustrated by Scott – the Pride goalkeeper saving attempts from Henslee and Coulson.
The hosts continued to fire away without success as Andy Thompson sliced his shot wide of the target and Macuace headed over the crossbar late in the contest.
Coulson turned home a low finish from ten yards out with a minute remaining in regulation time to draw Strikers level before debutant Hills pounced in the final second with a spectacular long-range finish to seal the points for Strikers and consign Pride to their first defeat of the campaign.
Strikers coach Kevin A’herne-Evans was full of praise for his side’s determination and never-say-die attitude.
“You got to give the credit to the squad and the belief in never giving up. That’s twice now in the past three games where we have come from behind,” A’herne-Evans said.
Pride coach Karl Dodd conceded that it was disappointing to let a hard fought lead slip in the final minutes but remained philosophical
“It’s another learning experience for a young team and basically you just can’t take your foot off the peddle,” he said.
Brisbane Strikers FC 1 (Trent CLULOW 26’, Scott COULSON 89’, Fraser HILLS 90+3’)
Western Pride FC 2 (Harrison SAWYER 5’, Cameron KLEINHANS 48’)