The Maitland Rams kept their undefeated record intact after coming from two goals behind to beat Gosford 4-3.
In a game where Gosford dominated much of the play and by mid-second half appeared to have the match sewn up, the Rams players were able to lift when it counted to make up the deficit.
Rams coach Nathan Baker said his tired team put everything they had into the win.
“These guys have got a lot of heart and they love this team and they love this club,” he said.
“We had a lot of the guys backing up from the Urbanathlon in Sydney, where participants run 10km punctuated by 10 obstacles and a lot of them played a full game in second grade beforehand.”
Playing at their home ground, the Rams started well, with Ben Urquhart opening the ledger, diving to slot in a deflection from Gosford’s keeper.
Gosford replied with three unanswered goals, controlling the field with disciplined team play.
The Rams began their turnaround 10 minutes into the second half when Baker drew out the keeper, then hit the ball over and into the goal mouth.
Dillon McIntosh showed poise beyond his years to even the score a minute later.
The 17-year-old beat the keeper, but was drawn wide.
He slotted a sharp goal from just inside the back line.
With the scores at 3-3 Maitland lifted and began to put together more disciplined pieces of play, but they were unable to penetrate Gosford’s solid defence.
There was a tense moment when a push to Peter Urquhart as he entered the goal circle earned Gosford defender some time on the sideline, but the Rams were unable to convert the resulting short corner.
The final breakthrough came with three minutes to go when Stephen Judd took a free hit outside the circle.
Taking the ball himself, he drew it back, then sent it into the circle for Matthew Brown to deflect into the net.
But the match wasn’t over yet.
With 40 seconds left on the clock, Gosford earned a short corner, which then had to be played out after the final buzzer.
They earned another in that play, but aimed the drag flick too high and it went over the net.
“They (the Rams) just wanted it bad,” Baker said.
“Gosford controlled most of the play out there.
“They’re a quality side.
“They’ve got a coach out from Ireland who has them playing a really good system where if you don’t keep track, you get undermanned really quickly.”