Anyone looking at the Lotto Northern Premier League results from May 13 and seeing the Bay Olympic 2, Eastern Suburbs 2 scoreline will very likely have thought the result a fair reflection of what was probably an even tussle.
They couldn't be further from the truth if they tried!
Suburbs, quite frankly, were pants! For the vast majority of the ninety minutes of this clash, they were running fourth in a two-horse race. So ineffective had they been in the first half that coach Hoani Edwards had used all his substitutes by the time the second spell got under way - he dragged the first under-performer just twenty-seven minutes into the contest.
Edwards cut a frustrated figure throughout much of the contest, visibly seething at his charges' shortcomings. Yet somehow they managed to snatch a point from the jaws of embarrassment thanks to two Tim Payne goals in three minutes, strikes which left Bay gaffer Shane Knowles pondering upon not what might have been, but what should have been - a comfortable home win over sub-standard opposition.
Bay could have been two goals up inside the first five minutes. Niklas Ordenewitz linked with debutant Mario Bilen to play in well-performed overlapping fullback Luke Jorgensen down the right, from where he whipped in a cross which Jared Colligan was poised to turn home until Troy Tapsell's timely intervention.
The Bilen - Jorgensen ticket opened up Suburbs' left flank once again in the fifth minute, the fullback this time getting to the by-line before fizzing a low cross across the six yard box which only needed a touch to divert it home. Sadly for Bay, no one in a green shirt was in a position to do so.
Suburbs' lone threat on goal in the first forty minutes saw Dylan Bull dash past three opponents at pace in the ninth minute before seeing his pull-back from the by-line parried by David Masters.
The ball rolled invitingly into the stride of Harry Redwood, who used his right foot to execute what should have been a left-footed effort, and sent the sphere sailing well wide of the target with Masters struggling to recover his ground.
The quality of the spectacle tailed off markedly from this moment, with Julyan Collett's enterprising raid from deep inside his own half - he only just failed to get on the end of a one-two with Colligan at its culmination in the 22nd minute - the only other highlight of note inside the opening half-hour, aside from Edwards' apoplexy and a wayward finish from Payne on the volley.
Nine minutes before half-time, Colligan squandered a great chance when through on goal with just Silvio Rodic to beat, the 'keeper grabbing the ball at the striker's feet at the second attempt, after presenting Colligan with a second opportunity upon fumbling the ball initially.
Five minutes later, Rodic denied an Al Taaf Sahib effort after Ordenewitz and Colligan had combined on the left on the counter-attack, Suburbs having mounted a rare raid seconds beforehand which saw Payne's cross missed by both Masters and Sam Campbell, then air-shot at by James Pritchett as he attempted to avert the danger.
Half-time came around with both teams lucky to get nil on the scoreboard, and all present hoping for an improved second half showing to help ward off the chill which strikes Olympic Park once the warm Saturday afternoon sun drops far enough to cast the clubrooms' shadow across the ground.
Suburbs' substitute Derek Tieku was only prevented from making an instant impact on proceedings by Ben Billings' timely challenge - a tackle by the solidly performed fullback on Payne before half-time was straight out of the same textbook.
It sparked a flurry of Bay opportunities inside the next three minutes, with Pritchett going close after Dino Botica and Colligan had worked an opening on the right, before a Sahib raid down the left culminated in the promising prospect that is Botica being denied by Rodic, who spilled the shot, only for the momentum of his right leg to sweep the sphere narrowly past the post for a corner.
Pritchett delivered it to the far post, where Colligan rose high to bring out the best from Rodic. Unfortunately for the 'keeper, his save landed at the feet of Campbell, who gleefully slammed the ball into the roof of the net to open the scoring for Bay fifty minutes into the contest.
Straight from the kick-off, Suburbs looked to restore parity, with Masters forced to tip Payne's drive round the post after Jordan Vale and Bull had done the spadework. But what followed from the resulting short corner between Tieku and Payne had everyone laughing, the sight of the former Blackburn Rovers professional falling over his own feet while in full flight summing up Suburbs' afternoon to this point in time.
It got worse soon afterwards, as Bay doubled their lead in the 59th minute. Ordenewitz robbed Tieku and ran on and on past opponents aplenty before working a one-two with Colligan - his return pass was a peach - then wrong-footing Rodic as he rolled the ball into the opposite corner of the net - 2-0.
Inside the next five minutes, both teams went close with headed efforts. Tapsell's looping effort landed on the roof of the net after Scott Jacques had crossed the ball, while at the other end, Ordenewitz headed wide after Collett and Billings had combined to good effect on the left.
The game looked to be up for Suburbs, with Hayden Johns' shot at Masters matched by Colligan's volley straight at Rodic ten minutes from time, moments after Bull's covering challenge had prevented Ordenewitz from extending Bay's lead still further.
No one expected those opportunities to prove costly for the home team, so insipid had Suburbs been in general. Yet from out of nowhere, they were back in the game eight minutes from time.
Louee Cliffe cleared a cross to Bull, who rampaged down the right, doing Collett a treat en route, before crossing to the near post where Payne arrived on cue to guide a stooping header across Masters and into the far corner of the net.
2-1 became 2-2 three minutes later, a quite exquisite free-kick from Payne which beat Masters all ends up from twenty-five yards to turn the game on its head - the visitors seemingly hadn't even been in contention, yet here they were on level terms late on in the piece. Football can't half be a funny game, sometimes.
Cue Bay pressure aplenty, with Rodic going close to aiding their cause in ridiculous fashion straight from the kick-off, by nearly dribbling the ball into his own net as the closing figure of Colligan looked on in amazement - he wasn't the only one!
Into stoppage time we went, and Collett went close with a glancing header before Suburbs' rearguard made a meal of dealing with Nick Hindson's long throw-in. They eventually cleared their lines, sparking a last-ditch counter-attack from which Vale very nearly won the match for the visitors, his shot flashing past the far post as referee Ben Hill put his whistle to his lips for the final time this day.
Bay Olympic: Masters; Jorgensen, Campbell, Collett, Billings; Pritchett, Bilen (booked, 84), Botica; Sahib (Hindson, 71), Colligan, Ordenewitz (Thomas, 78)
Suburbs: Rodic; Johns, Tapsell, Elder, Cliffe; Vale, D'Souza (Jacques, 27), Alumbaugh (Van der Heijden, 46); Redwood (Tieku, 46 (booked, 90)), Payne, Bull
Referee: Ben Hill