Western Pride held their spot in the top four on Saturday night after fighting from two goals down to draw 2-2 with a nine-man FNQ Heat at Endeavour Park.
Heat scored either side of half-time courtesy of Jamie Carroll and Crios O’Hare before Pride stormed home on the back of late goals to Jay Kitching and Lincoln Rule.
The hosts started positively but spurned a pair of early chances when Crios O’Hare and Ethan Docherty failed to find the target.
Just after the quarter hour Heat’s appeals for a Pride handball in the box were waived away despite vocal protests.
Pride’s first clear chance came just prior to the half hour as Gabriel Hawash pounced on a wayward clearance from Heat goalkeeper Kev Ward, the keeper’s blushes only spared by a solid block from James Price.
Heat continued to dominant the bulk of proceedings before Carroll broke the deadlock five minutes before the break with a classy low finish from Charlie Beverley’s pass.
Hawash threatened to pull a goal back for Pride just prior to the break as his stinging strike took a sharp deflection and fizzed past the post.
Following the restart Heat continued to threaten as Carroll and Smith both saw strikes skim the crossbar and O’Hare forced a solid save from Pride goalkeeper Bon Scott prior to the hour.
The pressure told shortly after when O’Hare tapped in from Carroll’s pin-point pass across the face of goal to double the advantage.
However, the match took a decisive turn when Docherty was dismissed for an ill-considered challenge only four minutes later that allowed the visitors back into the contest.
Pride took full advantage of the extra man in the final ten minutes when Peter Drager picked out Kitching at the back post to pull a goal back.
Eight minutes later Pride restored parity when Rule delivered his second penalty in two weeks after Tamas Maffey-Stumpe felled Drager in the box.
Heat then found themselves truly behind the eight-ball in the final minutes when O’Hare was dismissed for a second bookable offence.
However, Heat successfully prevented further damage to ultimately hang-on for a share of the spoils.
Speaking post-match, Heat captain Tamas Maffey-Stumpe said it was disappointing to let their two goal lead slip late in the match.
“A few decisions went against us and we made a few mistakes, we didn’t bury the opportunities that we had and as a result we are leaving here without a win and we’re disappointed,” he said.
Pride Assistant Coach Karla Reuter was more upbeat about her side’s determination to play to the final whistle and secure a point from the long away trip.
“The way the game went, we’re happy with the one point even though we were a few men up. It was a pretty intense game and it was quite frantic,” she said.
FNQ FC Heat 2 (Jamie CARROLL 40’, Crios O’HARE 68’)
Western Pride FC 2 (Jay KITCHING 80’, Lincoln RULE 88’p)