A centimetre-perfect strike from Sam Thompson earned Henwood Park top spot and sealed a wild victory over ladder-leading Lake Albert at Rawlings Park on Saturday night.
An undermanned Hawks outfit prevailed 5-4 as the Pascoe Cup’s top two sides traded blows all night, like two heavyweight boxers intent on going the full 12 rounds.
Thompson’s 86th minute set piece from the top of the box was a thing of beauty, curling into the top-left corner with Lake Albert’s defenders unable to do anything other than watch in horror.
How about this for a finish! Henwood Park's Sam Thompson with the stunning late winner as Hawks top Lake Albert 5-4 in a wild shootout. pic.twitter.com/VE55AcHuSs— The Daily Advertiser (@DailyAdvertiser) August 12, 2017
“I’ve been practicing those things for three years,” Thompson said.
“Since I got into seniors I’d turn up early and practice set pieces.
“For it to come off like that in that game was pretty crazy.
“It was surreal, you always dream of those things.”
The breathless top of the table clash lay in stark contrast with its 0-0 prequel in round seven, both teams entering the contest with an appetite for goals and dining out early and often.
Lake Albert leader Ben Angel set the tone for the high-scoring affair when he directed a mouth-watering through ball to Jamie Rankin, who finished truly and put his side up 1-0 in the 20th minute.
But Sharks’ lead lasted all of three minutes, as Hawks striker Jake Ploenges broke free and scored from a clearance in characteristic fashion.
Ploenges was back at it three minutes later, using his long strides to burst into space once again, finishing with a rocket from the left side and handing his team a 2-1 lead.
Just when the men in red and blue appeared to have everything figured out, goals to Henri and Fred Gardner in the 33rd and 48th minutes - the latter materialising from a delightful Cam Mavor assist - once again flipped the game which already contained more twists than season five of Breaking Bad.
With Ploenges sidelined by injury, Henwood Park’s Brad Ingram stepped up to equalise in the 54th minute, before Lake’s Henri Gardner slotted a handball-induced penalty to capture a 4-3 lead.
Henwood tied the score once more when Sam Thompson nailed a penalty of his own midway through the second half, after teammate Brad Ingram was brought down in the box.
The tension was palpable within the final ten minutes, as both sides madly pushed to score the winner.
Enter Sam Thompson, whose classy finish sealed the deal and provided the entertaining clash with the finish it deserved.