Melbourne City played an hour with 10 men but still managed to snare an A-League point from Central Coast on Sunday.
The eighth-placed Mariners were twice in front in Gosford but twice let their depleted visitors back into the game, only to be punished in the 86th minute by a Marcin Budzinski goal for a 2-2 draw.
Alan Baro captured an early lead and the hosts appeared well in control after Harrison Delbridge was given his marching orders in the 27th minute, only for Ross McCormack to spoil the Gosford party with his first-half equaliser.
And even after Jake McGing added a second goal, depleted City had the last laugh when Budzinski’s disallowed long-range strike was eventually given after the replay was viewed by officials.
Goals have been a particularly sore point for the Mariners, having scored just one from their prior six games.
Fortunately here, the clock had barely ticked past 13 minutes when Baro propelled the home side ahead with the defender’s first A-League goal.
Suspended Andrew Hoole watched from the stands as youngster Lachy Wales took over his set-piece duties with aplomb, rifling a free kick that Delbridge headed straight into his own crossbar and impinged the view of Dean Bouzanis as Baro buried the rebound.
Delbridge was at fault again just before the half-hour mark with an ugly tackle on Blake Powell and promptly received his marching orders.
Yet despite their numerical advantage the Mariners could not maintain their edge and, if anything, City appeared the more dangerous going forward.
Young gun Daniel Arzani and Nathaniel Atkinson were superb on the flank, the former bursting forward and floating a pinpoint cross to McCormack, who misjudged in the stiff breeze.
The Scotsman didn’t make the same mistake again when Scott Jamieson cut inside for a lovely square pass to set up McCormack’s instinctive strike through the legs of Antony Golek.
It was the in-form striker’s sixth goal in the last four games and his 13th of the season.
After the break the Mariners wasted no time reclaiming the lead.
Again the excellent delivery came courtesy of Wales and again the ball rocketed into the bar before McGing headed over Bouzanis on the most acute of angles.
But third-placed City kept pushing and it seemed only a matter of time when Budzinski unleashed from outside of the box to scorch the back of the net.
Controversially, the goal was initially denied for offside but, after viewing the replay, the video assistant referee was quick to award the equaliser.
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