Box Hill United’s senior men battled their way from behind to draw 2-2 against Murray United in Sunday afternoon’s NPL2 Round 26 clash.
Murray nosed ahead with first-half goals from Lewis Greenwood and an own strike from George Voliotis. But Box Hill turned the tide in the second period with the forward duo of Jamie Mammino and Jacob Byrns getting on the scoresheet. The home side also lost skipper Nicholas Kokolakis to a red card late in the second-half injury time.
The eventual goal-fest at Wembley Park began with both sides sizing each other up, resulting in action at either end.
While Box Hill centre-back Dennis Nielsen saw his effort following a corner blocked on four minutes, Murray replied with two attempts in the next eight minutes. They struck the post following Box Hill’s loss of possession after a goalkick, and Zac Walker missed an open goal on the back of a 12th-minute left-flank cross.
The hosts did not let up either, as a 13th-minute corner saw Nielsen cushioning a pass down for Mammino, who rose the highest but flicked his header just over the crossbar from close range.
But Murray grabbed the initiative on 31 minutes, as Box Hill faltered in clearing a floated pass from the right, and Greenwood nodded home off Christian Pavlidis’ fingertips between the Box Hill sticks.
And it was a fortuitous second goal for the visitors on 40 minutes, as Voliotis was at the wrong place at the wrong time, accidentally deflecting a seemingly harmless cross into his own net.
However, Con Karagiannidis’ Box Hill side finished the half looking to trigger an upturn in fortunes, as Nielsen headed just wide of the near post following McNamee’s flag-kick.
While in stoppage time, Murray custodian Mbuyi Mwala kept Mammino at bay from the edge of the box, who had been set up by Kokolakis down the middle.
Box Hill emerged from the tunnel with greater intent in the second-half, forcing a corner on 46 minutes. But two attacking players missed a telling touch on McNamee’s delivery inside the box.
Murray, on their part, resorted to surging ahead on the counter, but were thwarted by Pavlidis’ heroics twice.
The Box Hill shot-stopper closed down Tom Young’s angled shot from the left on 55 minutes, and kept his side in the contest by parrying Zac Walker’s effort three minutes later, when the Box Hill rearguard was caught shorthanded on the break.
A flurry of attacking switches turned the game on its head for the hosts, who halved the deficit via Mammino’s cheeky finish between a sea of legs inside the opposition area on 59 minutes.
And the young wide player was the creator of the second five minutes after, finding substitute Byrns inside the six-yard box, with the latter burying home the equaliser expertly.
Box Hill turned the screw late on via some encouraging wing-play, but a winner eluded them despite Nino Lacagnina cutting in from the left and having a shy on goal – only for the Italian’s powerful shot to drift just wide of the far post.
Murray managed to see out the remaining minutes soaking up the pressure, despite Box Hill playing with a man less following Kokolakis’ second yellow card of the match on 93 minutes.
Box Hill United starting-XI: N Lacagnina, N Kokolakis ©, C Pavlidis (GK), J Mammino, D Pharoe (G Siamoa, 80’), A Miltiadou, R McNamee (I Joseph, 80’), D Nielsen, T Podaridis, J Vun (Byrns, 58’), G Voliotis
Unused substitutes: Y Skliros (GK), B Skliros