Archie snatches late draw

Archie Thompson has snatched a dramatic late 2-2 draw for a 10-man Melbourne Victory side against Central Coast in Gosford, scoring in the 94th minute to give Victory a deserved point

Archie Thompson has snatched a dramatic late 2-2 draw for a 10-man Melbourne Victory side against Central Coast in Gosford, scoring in the 94th minute to give Victory a deserved point

Victory had a man sent off for the second week in a row, with keeper Michael Theoklitos given his marching orders just before the hour for an off the ball incident involving Sasho Petrovski. At that point, Melbourne had a strong foothold on the game with the scores 1-1 after goals firstly from Matt Simon and then from Thompson.

But Theoklitos' departure allowed the Mariners to assume control and despite some fine work between the posts from understudy Mitch Langerak, the home side eventually got in front again through Simon on 83 minutes.

However, in a wonderful display of character, Melbourne never gave up and Grant Brebner won the ball in the box with just seconds left, fed it across to Thompson, who beat Mark Bosnich with an excellent left foot finish.

The draw means Melbourne maintains its hold on top spot of the ladder ahead of next week's home fixture against Queensland at Telstra Dome.

The Mariners opened the scoring on 12 minutes. With space opening up down the right, Brad Porter was able to deliver a cross into the box. Simon outpointed Michael Thwaite then had the poise to slip his strike under Theoklitos.

Melbourne's response was quick when Hernandez was put through by Rody Vargas on the right. The Costa Rican turned his opponent, rolled it to Thompson, who brilliantly beat his man and then finished well to secure his fourth goal at Bluetongue.

The Mariners were creating more chances early in the game and should have been 2-1 up on 20 minutes. Adrian Caceres put through John Hutchison, but Theoklitos moved quickly to block the close-range shot.

Theoklitos was kept busy cutting off the Mariners' advances and his quick thinking snuffed out a chance from Sasho Petrovski. Danny Allsopp could have put his team up at the half after profiting from some good work from Thompson and Billy Celeski, however Bosnich closed down the angle and produced a block to thwart the Melbourne striker.

Tom Pondeljak replaced Evan Berger at half time while Allsopp was again denied by Bosnich one-on-one in the opening two minutes of the half. It was a sign of Victory's attacking intent and shortly after Hernandez's shot was blocked by a desperate lunge from Pedj Bojic and Thompson mis-hit a good chance from Thwaite's cross

However, the match turned just before the hour when Theoklitos and Petrovski had a verbal confrontation and the keeper's physical reaction was deemed inappropriate by Peter Green and he was handed a straight red card.

Langerak came on, replacing Hernandez and the young custodian had an immediate impact, denying Caceres' well-hit shot. Petrovski then gave the 20-year-old a real scare when he just shot wide.

The Mariners weren't helping their own cause with Caceres' on target effort deflected wide by Petrovski on 75 minutes. The veteran striker was replaced by Dylan Macallister soon after, while Allsopp exited for Brebner.

Langerak denied Caceres once more, while two subsequent shots were deflected by Melbourne defenders to keep Victory in the game. But the weight of attacking pressure told and on 83 minutes, a long cross allowed Simon to rise highest and head the ball into the bar and then across the line.

But, as has happened so often in clashes between these two sides, there was a twist in the tail, with Thompson scoring in the final minute of stoppage time.

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Simon 12, 84) Melbourne Victory 2 (Thompson 16, 94) Saturday, 29 September 2008 Bluetongue Central Coast Stadium, Gosford Referee: Peter Green Crowd: 9010

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