Murray United have stayed unbeaten in their last three games following a 2-2 draw against Melbourne City at La Trobe on Saturday.
The Border side was forced to substitute goalkeeper Abdulkerim Koc just 10 minutes in with a quad issue, with Matt Mildren backing up from the under 20s to play a further 80 minutes.
Zac Walker opened the scoring for Murray after a nice build-up from Angel Taravillo and Lewis Greenwood in the 28th minute.
City found a reply inside five minutes, capatalising on some scrappy defence, and took the lead when Cobram product Gianluca Iannucci was unmarked in the box and headed home the cross to give City a 2-1 lead at the break.
Murray lifted the intensity in the second half and defended desperately to keep within reach of a result.
Captain Ashley Dunn was brought down in the box and Walker made no mistake to level the game in the 75th minute.
Walker came close to snatching it at the end when he found himself with time to shoot, only to be denied by the City keeper.
The ball spilled to marquee signing Daniel Vasilevski who fired at the top left corner, only for it to be kept out by a fingertip save, before the game ended at 2-2.
Murray coach Elliot Jones had mixed emotions after the contest.
“It was another really exciting game, I don’t know how many more of those I can sit through,” he said.
“We conceded a couple of sloppy goals, but the second half we changed a few things up and the guys really responded and carried out the game plan.
“I think the pleasing thing out of this is after conceding goals like that, we did bounce back and got back on top.”
Jones was particularly pleased with the way the side “rolled with the punches” after losing Koc early and missing the in-form Sean Pye, who was ruled out late in the week with a hamstring strain.
“Zac (Walker) was really good, we gave him a bit of a rocket at half-time and wanted more out of him because I feel like these sort of games he’s the one that can break it open,” Jones said.
“He proved to be the difference and was probably unfortunate in the end not to end up with a hat trick and win the game for us.
“Vassa (Vasilevski) still hasn’t got 90 minutes in him, but when he comes on he brings a lot of composure and class.
“Just having him out there, he was unlucky not to score himself, but I think it’s more building up from the back and what he can set up.”
The ladder after round 20 is: Dandenong City 45, Moreland City 40, Springvale 29, GV Suns 27, Melbourne City 26, Eastern Lions 24, Langwarrin 24, Murray United 19, Box Hill United 19, Nunawading City 12.
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