WHEN all hope looked lost for Bathurst '75 in Saturday's Western Premier League match at home to Dubbo Bulls the hosts found a way to snare a point from a tough contest.
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Bathurst '75 had watched a 1-0 lead that they'd gained early in the match turn into a 2-1 deficit in injury time when Brayden Smith appeared to have hit the winning shot for the Bulls in the 91st minute.
However, a lucky deflection off an Ethan Comerford shot just two minutes later allowed '75 to split the points and maintain their status as the only unbeaten team this season.
"When they scored their second goal we thought time was up and I was thinking that we'd lost. We'd battled through that whole second half," '75 coach Mark Comerford said.
"We had a great first half and we could have been two or three goals up at half-time. In the second half we just couldn't go with them. They end up scoring off a long throw in, and we just didn't deal well with the second ball off that.
"It was 1-all, with chances either end, and then they had a corner and - once again - we didn't deal with the second ball. We just have to have that intent to chase for that second ball and we've got to be better with dealing with that.
"Defensively I thought we were okay in general play, and our goalkeeper made some great saves. It was a hard game for us, and Bulls have been playing really well of late to get some good results. It was always going to be a challenge for us.
"There was nothing there that we didn't expect to be thrown at us, and for the majority of the game we were able to deal with that."
Bulls had the bigger share of possession at the start of the match but a free kick for the hosts in the 13th minute gave '75 the chance to score first.
Agieg Aluk answered the call with a brilliant volley directly in front of the goal, finishing off the well-placed free kick from his brother Athaui.
Bulls attempted to fire back with several opportunities inside the '75 box while the Bathurst men fired back with another free kick attempt, which struck the Dubbo wall, and a dangerous corner.
The '75 men dominated the middle stretch of the opening half but couldn't capitalise on a couple of chances in or around the Bulls penalty area.
Athuai Aluk missed a solid chance from a tight angle inside the last five minutes of the half, and they would have to remain content with their one goal buffer at the break.
Bulls looked the more likely side to score in through the early portion of the second half.
In the 68th minute Dubbo's Gareth Williams managed to get a strong shot off after running onto the end of a long ball out of his own half, and Bulls continued to pressure the '75 goal with several free kick opportunities.
The equaliser came from Koby Rapley in the 79th minute, fresh onto the pitch from the bench, when '75 failed to clear the ball off a long throw-in and he arrived at the perfect position to smash the ball home from close range.
The pressure continued to come from the Bulls and it looked like it was going to be a heartbreaking defeat for the hosts when Smith put the ball into the back of the net after a scrap in front of the goal.
With one last roll of the dice Bathurst '75 brought the ball forward and managed to find Ethan Comerford at the top of the box, and his strike took a deflection off the chest of a Bulls defender and found its way into the bottom left corner of the net.
The result leaves '75 still in fourth place, on account of fifth-placed Barnstoneworth United's shock loss to Lithgow Workmen's, but the Bathurst team still has a catch up game with Waratahs to play and they've already had their second bye of the season.
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