Melbourne City were held to a 1-1 draw by Adelaide United on Monday, after Jess Fishlock’s spectacular free-kick was cancelled out by Rachael Quigley at CB Smith Reserve.
The Welsh midfielder had given City the lead with a curling set-piece into the top corner after 25 minutes, but Quigley’s 70th minute header from Sofia Huerta’s excellent cross earned a point for the visitors.
The result leaves City side five points adrift of first placed Sydney FC, setting up a tantalising clash against the league leaders at Leichhardt Oval next week.
City stamped its authority right from the first whistle and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, however both sides had chances to open the scoring during a lively opening period.
The Reds, who could consider themselves unlucky to have begun the evening near the bottom of the league table, nearly struck gold in the opening minutes when Aivi Luik was dispossessed by Alex Chidiac in defence, with the former City forward lashing a warning shot just over the crossbar.
It was one of few first half opportunities for the visitors as City quickly asserted its dominance in possession and chances created. Beverly Yanez was only a stud’s length away from the game’s opening goal in the 16th minute, but couldn’t connect properly with Tyla Jay Vlajnic’s arrowing cross.
Jacynta Galabadaarachchi, so promising in her substitute’s cameo against Perth last week, picked up where she left off from the get-go, cutting inside from the left in trademark fashion before unleashing a shot which Eliza Campbell did well to tip over the crossbar.
It was a blink and you’ll miss it type contest. Adelaide defender Danielle Colaprico was only a whisker away from heading Steph Catley’s set-piece past her own goalkeeper, until the deadlock was broken in sensational fashion by Fishlock in the 25th minute.
It was another driving from Galabadaarachchi which yielded a City free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. Fishlock stepped up, picked her spot and curled wonderfully into the top corner for her fifth goal of the season.
The goal sparked the contest into live and the Reds would have been level were it not for the heroics of Lydia Williams.
The Westfield Matildas shot-stopper produced one of the saves of the season to claw out Naughton’s point-blank header, before standing tall to beat away a shot from Huerta only moments later.
Galabadaarachchi then struck the base of the post at the other end with a clever dink after another sensational run in the last big moment of the first half, as both sides entered the break level.
Colaprico fired into the arms of Williams immediately after the restart, while Huerta rattled the side netting as Adelaide flew out of the blocks in the second half.
The visitors were rewarded for their adventure with 20 minutes left to play as Quigley stunned the home crowd with a well-worked equaliser, nodding Huerta’s ball across Williams and into the far corner.
City probed forward in search of the winning goal, with substitute Larissa Crummer curling an effort into the arms of Campbell, in what was her first appearance of the season since returning from injury.
Judging by the sheer volume of chances created, a goal looked inevitable. Substitute Erika Tymrak came closest to snatching the winner with a rasping volley that crashed off the base of the post, while Campbell clung onto Fishlock’s header in the dying seconds to ensure both sides earned a share of the spoils.