THE race for the top two remains wide open after Redan and Sunbury played out a thrilling draw at Clarke Oval on Saturday.
In a genuine thriller between two of the Ballarat Football League heavyweights, it was Sunbury spearhead Simon Clarke who proved to be the ultimate hero, booting the equalising goal with a minute remaining.
Just minutes earlier, it seemed Redan had placed one foot in the door of ﬁnishing top two, with Mitch Phelps roving a marking contest and snapping his ﬁfth goal in textbook fashion.
The maroon and gold were seven points up at the 25-minute mark of the quarter with the breeze at their backs. But what happened just two minutes later down the other end of the ﬁeld proved decisive.
Redan's Ben Schiltz marked the ball just metres inside the Sunbury goal line, with his momentum carrying him through the points.
He then played on but ran back into play through the goals, meaning a rushed behind resulted in just one straight kick separating the sides.
With tension gripping the entire ground, it was Clarke who stood tall to boot the equalising goal to drive a stake through Redan as he has done so many times in the past.
The Lions then threatened to steal the result, with ruckman Pat Cariss marking about 80 metres from goal and searching downﬁeld for an option.
However, the siren sounded with the ball still in his hands.
In a last-ditch effort, Cariss tried a torpedo kick, but with 80 metres to travel into the wind his shot never had a realistic chance.
Speaking after the match, Sunbury coach Rick Horwood said getting the draw almost felt as good as a win.
"It still feels like we won, because we were behind so far and the day was gone," he said.
"But we came back and salvaged two points. I thought when Phelps kicked that goal we were gone."
For Redan, it was the midﬁelders who kept the Lions in the match.
Phelps was a clear best on ground with ﬁve goals, but the likes of Matt Caris, Brendan Peace and Ryan Waight were standout performers on the ball.
Jarrett Giampaolo survived a bone-crunching bump from Xavier Linton in the opening quarter and Grant Bell, who kicked three goals, was looking extremely dangerous
before he was forced off the ﬁeld towards the end of the third quarter with a rolled ankle.
Redan coach Eammon Gill said although his side did not get the win, there was a belief instilled that his side could now match it with Sunbury.
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The maroon and gold has lost their past four games against Sunbury and has been winless at Clarke Oval since 2008.
"I couldn't be prouder with our boys and how much we have improved since we met Sunbury earlier in the year," he said.
Sunbury can cement a top two position in the ﬁnal round against North Ballarat City next week but will most likely drop to third if it loses, with Redan expected to defeat Melton easily.