SEBASTOPOL Vikings came within minutes of pinching the biggest upset of the Football Federation Victoria state league four season on Saturday, conceding a late goal to draw 2-2 with undefeated Hoppers Crossing on the road.
Facing the biggest challenge in the league, a Ryan Rykers brace had the Vikings daring to dream, only for an 85th-minute penalty to cost them what would have been the sweetest of victories.
In its previous 11 matches for the year, Hoppers Crossing had won every match of the season, meaning Sebastopol was actually the first side to come away with any points against the premiership favourite.
However, it could have been that much better had the Vikings managed to hold on for just another five minutes.
“I was pretty rapt with the effort overall. We nearly stole the three points on their home ground,” stand-in coach Jonathon Davey said. “It just goes to show what a good team we can be without the ball.
“I think we were successful in making them play a different style to what they normally do and what they wanted to do.”
Earlier in the match, it seemed the expected script was going to be followed for the match, with Hoppers Crossing scoring the opener goal about the 20 minute-mark courtesy of a strong strike from a cross.
However, almost immediately, Davey struck a free kick into the wall in an attempt on goal, only for the ball to fall at the feet of Rykers, who calmly converted.
With the scores locked at half time, Rykers again found the back of the net after Sebastopol was awarded a penalty for a handball, putting the visitors 2-1 up.
Trying to keep Hoppers Crossing out for the remainder of the match was always going to be difficult and in the end it proved too much, with a penalty in the dying stages bringing the table-toppers back into the game.
The result means the Vikings remain in 10th position on the table, with seventh-placed Bell Park waiting next week.