A flurry of late goals saw A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers play out an action-packed 2-2 draw at Bankwest Stadium on Tuesday.
Mariners captain Oliver Bozanic slotted home a penalty with seven minutes remaining to earn the visitors a point in a contest they largely dominated.The draw takes last season's wooden-spooners three points clear at the top, though having played two matches more than second-placed Melbourne City.
After a Matt Simon goal in the first half, the impressive Mariners created enough chances to be well out of sight before substitute Bruce Kamau bagged two goals within four second-half minutes against the run of play.
Gosford-local Simon looked set to be the hero, netting midway through the first half until Kamau finally drew the home side level with 16 minutes remaining. The Mariners, who named an unchanged side from the one that saw off Adelaide United 2-1 last Thursday, played with confidence from the outset and enjoyed an outstanding opening half in western Sydney.
Simon continued his late career form with a deft chip over goalkeeper Daniel Margush on 22 minutes, after Marco Urena set up the opening with a driving run from deep. It could have been worse for the Wanderers minutes later but Margush made a superb close-range block from Daniel Bouman, who seemed likely to score.
The Wanderers lifted after the break as they soon have done on several occasions this season, but the home side struggled to make the most of a couple of half-chances, notably striker Mitch Duke.
But then the Mariners laid siege to the Wanderers goal and host defender Tom Aquilina somehow made a goalline block to deny Jack Clisby to keep the home side in the contest midway through the second half.
It proved a pivotal moment with the Wanderers grabbing a barely-deserved equaliser with 16 minutes remaining. Substitute Kamau finished off a smart team move to restore parity and set up a tense finale.
Mariners' defender Gianni Stensness, who had an otherwise excellent match, somehow conspired to miss an open goal with his close-range header. It proved hugely costly as Kamau netted again within a matter of seconds, with his shot deflecting into the goal after a positive run at the defence.
The Mariners got their equaliser in somewhat controversial fashion when Alou Kuol was deemed to have been fouled following an elongated VAR review, with Bozanic converting from the spot.
There was still time for Aquilina to direct a header against the crossbar to narrowly fall short of an unlikely Wanderers win amid a wild finale. Wanderers' assistant coach Kenny Miller received a red card after the fulltime whistle after exchanging words with referee Chris Beath.