A last-gasp equaliser has cost Shepparton United the chance to take all three points from its season-opening clash with Eaglehawk.
Against last season’s runner-up, United led twice and largely shut down its opposition, but conceded with mere minutes to play for a 2-2 draw.
Off-season addition Fabrice Ebe took just five minutes to make his mark and give his side a lead it would hold until shortly before the hour-mark, when Eaglehawk’s Riley Hayton levelled the scores.
United kept knocking on the door in search of a winner and thought it had found it in the 77th minute when Ermal Marku made it 2-1.
But Eaglehawk would keep fighting and made the most of limited chances, Keegan Smyth locking the scores at 2-2 in the 89th minute.
United coach Roven Shaholli was shattered his side’s quality performance had netted just a single point.
‘‘I’m really disappointed — they scored in the last two minutes,’’ Shaholli said.
‘‘I was really happy with the boys that played and we’ve got a lot of guys to come back, and I was proud of the younger guys especially.
‘‘We had our chances — a lot of chances actually — and they had three or four chances and scored twice. That’s just part of football sometimes.’’
Squandering a lead late is never easy to swallow and Shaholli said all his unit could do was learn from it.
‘‘Even though we drew, I think a lot of the boys took it as a loss,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve got a lot to work on. Their goals weren’t even mistakes, they just found little crumbs in the box and scored twice.
‘‘We want to see a bit more fight next week, I think the boys realise now we led twice and let them come back in. There’s a bit of a learning curve with that.’’
Elsewhere, Shepparton got a surprise from Colts United, also held to a 2-2 draw.
Omran Alhamzah scored twice for Shepparton and his side led 1-0 at half-time, only slip to a disappointing draw against the side that finished 10th last year.
Strathdale knocked off Golden City 4-3 in a round one thriller, and Spring Gully beat Epsom 2-1.