Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the points in a thrilling 1-1 draw at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night with both sides ending the match with ten men.
The Reds had Louis D’Arrigo sent off just before halftime before Wanderers defender Mark Natta was expelled in the final quarter hour to ensure a thrilling finish.
Bernie Ibini squandered a glorious chance to snatch all three points for the visitors with almost the last kick of the game but blasted wide from five metres.
“That happens sometimes,” Western Sydney coach Carl Robinson said.
“I’m disappointed because we could’ve won it in the last minute – would it have been fair or not? Don’t know.”
The Wanderers looked dangerous early and threatened the Reds’ penalty area with former Adelaide players James Troisi and Bruce Kamau looking most likely.
But it was the home side who opened the scoring against the run of play in the 10th minute with Tomi Juric getting on the scoresheet in his first start since returning from injury.
Ben Halloran burst past Natta before lifting a cross which Juric met, outjumping two defenders, and cushioned a header off the post and into the back of the net.
On the stroke of halftime, the Reds went a man down when D’Arrigo was shown a second yellow card after he brought down Mitchell Duke on the halfway line with the striker leading a counter attack.
Adelaide started the second half on the front foot and should have added a second when Ryan Strain rounded the keeper, only to dribble his shot across the empty goal from a tight angle.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to them,” Reds coach Carl Veart said after his side came out swinging after the break despite the Wanderers’ numerical advantage.
“They worked extremely hard and that first 20 minutes of the second half I thought we were the only team that was going to score.”
The Wanderers eventually gained control with Kamau springing the offside trap and racing through on goal, only for Joe Gauci to deny the winger on the hour.
It wasn’t long though before Western Sydney drew level with substitutes Ibini and Simon Cox combining for the equaliser, with the latter controlling a deflected cross in the penalty area and firing past Gauci on 67 minutes.
Cox almost had the visitors in front two minutes later when he was teed up by Duke, but Gauci pulled out an impressive reflex save down low.
The game was turned on its head in the 76th minute when the Wanderers were reduced to ten men when Natta was shown a straight red after holding back Stefan Mauk on the edge of the area with the midfielder denied a goalscoring opportunity.
Both sides traded blows in the final quarter hour with Ibini embarrassingly wasting a chance to score winner, shooting wide from close range with the Wanderers in a three-on-one counter attack.