A late goal from Tom Barforosh has secured an undermanned Melbourne City FC a dramatic 2-2 draw with Eastern Lions SC at Gardiners Creek Reserve on Saturday.
City looked destined to fall to a magnificent turn-around from the home side, when goals to Mitch Beamish and Ziggy Razuki propelled the Lions into a 2-1 lead following Thomas Falconer’s first half own-goal.
But it was substitute Barforosh who proved to be the hero at the death, heading past a stranded Andrew Lightfoot in the final minute of injury time to secure a deserved point for Joe Montemurro’s side.
It was a resilient performance from a City outfit deprived of a host of first-team starters. In-form striker Wade Dekker was absent after his selection for Melbourne City FC’s friendly against Manchester City, with team-mates Nick Symeoy, Hernan Espindola, Stefan Zinni, Phil Petreski and Yaren Sozer also named in John van’t Schip’s squad for the clash on the Gold Coast.
A cagey first half saw neither side stamp their authority on proceedings, but it was the Lions who nearly found themselves ahead in the 13th minute. A superb cross by Ziggy Razuki found an unmarked Munyaradzi Nyadzayo inside the penalty area, with the striker forcing City goalkeeper Jack West-Astuti into a brilliant reaction save to deny the goal-bound header.
The chance sparked City into action and the away side found themselves in the lead on 24 minutes. A superb through ball from defender Jordan Hall released the marauding Anthony Rizk, who’s drilled cross deflected off the unfortunate Thomas Falconer and into the back of the net to give City a 1-0 lead.
The game suddenly sprung into life and West-Astuti had to be alert only two minutes later to preserve City’s advantage, standing up tall to deny Phillip Ajao after the striker burst through on goal.
The City ‘keeper was again called into action only minutes before half-time, springing to his right to punch clear an arrowing set-piece from Andrew Williams in what was the last meaningful chance before the break.
Eastern Lions were nearly level shortly after the restart when Ajao pounced on the loose ball inside the penalty area, but the striker could only smash his effort against the crossbar with West-Astuti well beaten.
Mehdi Sarwari came close to netting a second goal for City, cutting inside his marker in the 55th minute before unleashing a curling effort just wide of Lightfoot’s right hand post as the away side continued to threaten in attack.
The Lions upped the ante in search of an equalizing goal, with Baki Efe doing well to thwart a dangerous cross from Ajao before West-Astuti made an excellent block to deny Beamish inside the six-yard box.
And the home side were gifted a penalty in the 68th minute after City were penalised for a handball inside the area. Williams could only fire the initial spot-kick against the post, but Beamish was quickest to react, bursting into the penalty area to net the rebound and level the scores.
Barforosh nearly provided an immediate riposte for City when he latched on to a poor clearance from the Lions defence, but the substitute could only blaze his effort wide of the target.
City would be made to pay for the missed opportunity in the 83rd minute when Razuki fired the Lions into the lead, tapping home from the six-yard box after some excellent forward pressing caused a turnover outside the penalty area.
Falconer made amends for his own goal with a fantastic goal-line clearance at the death, as a day which started with such optimism for City looked to be heading for despair – then came the finale from Barforosh, heading home the rebound after Lightfoot made an excellent reaction save to give City a deserved share of the spoils.
Eastern Lions SC 2 (Mitch BEAMISH 69’, Ziggy RAZUKI 83’)
Melbourne City FC (Thomas Falconer OG 24’, Tom BARFOROSH 90+2)
Venue: Gardiners Creek Reserve, Burwood.
Melbourne City FC Line-up: 1. Jack WEST-ASTUTI (GK), 4. Jordan HALL, 5. Leo ATHANASIOU, 8. Ratip CILELI, 10. Luka PRELEVIC, 12. Anthony RIZK, 14. Baki EFE, 15. Luke GALLO, 16. Matthew MILLAR (Tom BARFOROSH 69’), 19. Anthony TARANTO (Marcus DIMANCHE 83’), 22. Mehdi SARWARI (Haralambos STAMBOULIDIS 81’)
Substitutes not-used: 20. Yianni SKLIROS (GK),17. Joseph MONEK
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
Eastern Lions SC Line-up: 1. Andrew LIGHTFOOT (GK), 2. William ELLIS, 3. Matthew PARRY, 5. Thomas FALCONER, 6. Andrew WILLIAMS, 7. Ziggy RAZUKI (Yianni TOUMANIDIS 86’), 8. Mitch BEAMISH (Daniel RODRIGUES 76’), 10. Phillip AJAO, 11. Munyaradzi NYADZAYO, 13. Jarrah CLEAR, 16. Shaun KENNY
Substitutes not-used: 28. Robert HAVERCROFT, 4. Michael JONES, 14. Jordan HORN.
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil