It was billed as a battle of the champions vs the challengers and the bout did not disappoint as Canberra FC and Tigers FC played out an enthralling and feisty 1-1 draw as Sunday evening (26 May) shadows crept across Deakin Stadium.
In the end, it was a margin of centimetres that kept defending champions Canberra from snatching a win against the Tigers as a volley from Jason Ugrinic rattled the crossbar and bounced on the line in the second half.
Tigers FC, who had not dropped points all season, made the trek to Deakin focussed on maintaining their lead on top of the table while Canberra was aiming to continue their climb up the ladder after a premiership hangover to start the season.
It was a Ryan Keir header on the hour mark that brought Canberra level and gave them a share of the points after a left foot screamer from Hussain Fureje put the Tigers in front in the 22nd minute.
Despite causing the Tigers to drop their first points of the season, Canberra FC coach Luka Ujdur said his side saw the result as two points missed.
“If we had of taken some of our opportunities in the second half it would have been a different result,” he said. “We are disappointed that we didn’t get the three points.
“I thought we were stronger physically and mentally and we had some strong passages of momentum. Maybe if we had a bit of luck with that crossbar it would have been 2-1 and we might have carried on from there.
“I thought we were the stronger team this afternoon and we lost two points today.
“It was hard for them to break us down unlike us where we had passages of momentum but an exceptional team takes those opportunities.”
Both teams will now turn their attention to the FFA Cup clashes on Wednesday night (29 May) as Canberra FC play NPL2 side ANU FC at Hawker Football Centre while the Tigers will travel to Tuggeranong to play United for a place in the final.