For what started cool, calm and collected, ended with two red cards, a melee and a gritty Gungahlin United win.
A ten-man Gungahlin held on for a 3-1 win over Belconnen United at the AIS on Sunday, ending the Blue Devils' unbeaten start to the Canberra Premier League season.
Coach Marcial Munoz was pleased by his team's effort to overcome a numerical disadvantage after Lachlan Griffiths was sent off in the 44th minute with a red card.
He knocked Belconnen's Luca Macor to the ground when contesting the ball, but it's unclear whether the card was given for the contact or what unfolded afterwards.
A scuffle started between the two NPL sides, sparked by Antoni Timotheou who appeared to shove Adrian Macor in the back when he approached Griffiths about the tackle.
Munoz said he would review the footage to better understand the referee's decision because he did not think the red card was warranted.
"I'm not sure why he got sent off exactly. From my perspective there was a bit of push and shove but nothing to warrant a red card to anyone," Munoz said.
"This is the heat of the moment in games like this. Maybe a couple of yellow cards but when I saw the red I could not believe it.
It came after Gungahlin had calm control of the opening half, with forward Michael Adams putting the home team ahead with a crucial goal in the 21st minute.
Gungahlin's relentless pressure in attack saw Adams pounce on some handy footwork from striker Philippe Bernabo-Madrid, who ankle tapped the ball behind him.
Adams struck the ball past Blue Devils goalkeeper Jordan Thurtell, for it to awkwardly bounced off the crossbar and into the goal.
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Belconnen levelled the scores with only 15 minutes remaining when 17-year-old Luca Florez put the finishing touch on controlled passage of play down the left-hand side.
But the celebrations were cut short 10 minutes later when Jeremy Habtemariam converted a penalty for a foul on Bernabo-Madrid.
"We are fortunate enough to have the quality players like Jeremy, who has done that before in big games," Munoz said.
"I was relieved when we scored that goal."
Belconnen lost Darren Bailey to a red card after he brought down Bernabo-Madrid in a late tackle with three minutes to spare.
Gungahlin took advantage of the equal numbers and rubbed salt in the wound with a stunning intercept by Michael John, who went on to beat three defenders to score the final goal.
"The win is very positive for us but I think it's the way we did it that I'm most happy about," Munoz said
"We didn't give up and we just kept attacking. We were always looking to see if we could get the next goal, I was really pleased the boys kept that up."
Meanwhile in Cooma, Kista Aimilio scored a hat-trick in Canberra Croatia's 4-2 win over Tigers FC.
AT A GLANCE
NPL Canberra round three: GUNGAHLIN UNITED (Adams, Habtemariam, John) 3 bt BELCONNEN UNITED (Florez) 1, CANBERRA CROATIA (Aimilio, Udjur) 4 bt TIGERS FC (Shields, Borgna) 2