WODONGA suffered heartbreak for the second time in three games when a goal after the siren from Zac Hedin forced a draw between the Bulldogs and Wangaratta on Saturday.
Wodonga, which remains winless this season, looked all but certain to end its drought when it led virtually all day against the Magpies at John Flower Oval.
The Bulldogs were four goals clear at the final change, but in typically cruel fashion, a scrappy kick forward landed in Hedin’s lap about 20 metres from goal when the siren sounded.
The Wangaratta youngster delivered.
Wodonga coach Ben Hollands was understandably disappointed but refused to drop his head after the result.
“There’s no doubt we’re improving every week,” Hollands said.
“Obviously we’re not far off a win.
“Unfortunately for us, the game went about 10 seconds too long again.
“I thought we did enough to win, which is frustrating, but there was a lot of good stuff for us to take out of it.”
Wangaratta wasted several chances in front of goal early but willed itself back into the contest with a seven-goal final term.
The Pies claimed the lead about 20 minutes into the final quarter but Wodonga rallied to pinch it back at the death.
Tough midfielder Matt Kelly was dominant, while Jamie Allan and Judd and Daine Porter also contributed.
Hollands was terrific for the Bulldogs, while Ben Heinrich and John Pratt also stood out in a strong team effort.
Wangaratta coach Mark Knobel conceded his team got out of jail.
“I think it’s fair to say we stole two points in the end,” he said.
“Our blokes were relieved, but frustrated.
“We were very poor in front of goal.
“It was a frustrating day but two points is better than none.”
Knobel was impressed by Wodonga’s intensity around the contest.
“I personally think they’ll win a couple before the year is out,” he said.
“Wodonga was very good.”
The second-year coach said this week’s Wangaratta derby would make or break the Magpies’ finals aspirations.