The 2012/13 National Youth League will go down to the final day after league-leaders Melbourne Victory were beaten 4-3 by the Western Sydney Wanderers in a thrilling contest at SS Anderson Reserve on Sunday.
A clinical first-half display from the Wanderers saw them go into the break 3-0 up with the points seemingly assured before a late surge from the home side gave the visitors an almighty scare.
In a game of two halves, the match exploded into life in the seventh minute when Wanderers' winger Kwabena Appiah-Kubi was fouled in the box after a dangerous run from the right.
Joseph Gibbs stepped up to coolly send Victory goalkeeper Tando Velaphi the wrong way and give the away side a 1-0 lead.
Victory immediately went about finding an equaliser but the Wanderers held firm and it wasn’t long before they doubled their lead.
A lofted ball to the back post from Yianni Perkatis was poorly dealt with by Kwabena Boahene, allowing Nicholas Olsen to steal in and slot home his team's second goal from close range with 29 minutes on the clock.
Trevor Morgan's men appeared to have wrapped the game up as a contest on 35 minutes when Gibbs tapped home his second from a Jake McGing cross but the Sydney side were given a warning of what was to come when Victory captain Luke O'Dea struck the bar with a vicious 30-metre drive in the dying stages of the half.
The second period saw Victory take off James Jeggo and bring on John Buceto and they looked a completely different side as they pulled one back in the 50th minute through a low drive from Christopher Cristaldo after some good build-up play between Jesse Makarounas and Spase Dilevski.
The home side had all the momentum and looked good value for a second as they continued to press but let themselves down by conceding a weak goal in the 65th minute.
Wanderers first team player Jason Trifiro, who looked dangerous all day, picked the ball up on the edge of the area and struck a low shot that managed to squirm under Velaphi to make the score 4-1.
The game petered out as the half wore on, the stifling conditions clearly taking their toll on the players, with neither side fashioning any meaningful chances until Victory turned the game on its head in the dying minutes.
First Cristaldo rose highest to powerfully head home with three minutes remaining to give the scoreboard respectability before Dylan Murnane gave Victory real hope of stealing a point after he found the back of the net with a rasping low drive from 25 metres.
But it proved too little too late as the Wanderers held on in a frantic injury time to claim the win.
Victory will now have to beat the Mariners next week in what is essentially a grand final in Gosford, with the winner to be crowned 2012/13 NYL champions after they drew level on points with the Victory following a 4-0 thumping of Sydney earlier on Sunday afternoon.
Melbourne Victory 3 (Cristaldo 50, 87, Murname 89)
Western Sydney Wanderers 4 (Gibbs 7, 35, Olsen 29, Trifiro 65)
Melbourne Victory: 1. Tando Velaphi (GK) (20. Phillip Petrovski 74) 2. Kwabena Boahene 3. Jason Geria 4. Daniel Chaabani 5. Dylan Murnane 6. Spase Dilevski (14. Francesco Stella 58) 7. Christopher Cristaldo 8. James Jeggo (11. John Buceto 45) 9. Luke O'Dea (c)10. Jesse Makarounas 13. Theodore Markelis (19. Connor Pain 58)
Western Sydney Wanderers1. Jerard Tyson (GK) (20. Aaron Liddell 81) 3. Spepjan Paric 4. James Baldacchino 5. Reece Caira 6. Yianni Perkatis (C) 7. Rocky Visconte (12. Jake McGing 22) (13. Jacob Williams 58) 8. Nicholas Olsen 9. Joseph Gibbs 10. Jason Trifiro 11. Tarek Elrich 14. Kwabena Appiah-Kubi (2. Daniel Barac 61)