The premiership trophy appeared to be moving across town from Sydney United to Bonnyrigg Sports Club, but when goalkeeper Ali Akbal was caught with his hands on the ball outside the penalty area, the scene was set for a dramatic final minute.
The White Eagles led 1-0 courtesy of a second-half goal to striker Brad Boardman, but Adem Kir stunned the Bonnyrigg faithful when his well executed free-kick found the back of the net in the 95? minute.
The White Eagles now sit five points ahead of Blacktown with two games remaining in the regular season.
In front of their home fans at Bonnyrigg Sports Club, the table-topping White Eagles controlled the tempo for the first 15? minutes, but after a chanceless opening, Rockdale finally brought the Bonnyrigg keeper into the match.
A charging Robert Di Meglio had the first real opportunity of the match, but his powerful drive was thwarted by Akbal, who was fortunate to deflect his save away from the advancing forwards.
Daniel Severino tried his best to bring the modest home crowd to life, but his free-kick curled right into the waiting arms of Suns keeper Ben McNamara.
Chris Tadrosse, who was creating havoc down the left flank, almost supplied Brad Boardman with the perfect cross, but Boardman was unable to direct his header and was forced to watch the ball sail into the stands.
It seemed Bonnyrigg were in control of possession for most of the half, but poor execution on the final pass let the home-side down on several occasions. A dour first-half struggle forced both teams into the sheds with the scores locked up at 0-0.
The game appeared to have lifted in intensity when the players returned for the second-half, and it was Rockdale who had first crack at breaking the deadlock.
Almir Dizdaric did well to hold two players up at the corner before laying back a ball to Adem Kir.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Kir?s powerful shot was deflected by a Bonnyrigg defender and sailed into the crowd.
But it didn?t take long for the White Eagles to hit back. A Severino corner found the head of Nathan Elasi in the box, but the former Melbourne Victory striker?s effort went narrowly over the top of the crossbar.
Milorad Simonovic was the next to try his luck, but his shot from outside the box lacked the direction to trouble McNamara.
But the White Eagles put one hand on the premiership trophy when they celebrated their first goal of the night in the 65? minute.
A low and well directed cross from Tadrosse was too much for the Suns defence to handle, deflecting the ball straight to Boardman who made no mistake belting home from close-range to send the Bonnyrigg faithful into raptures.
The Suns pushed forward in an attempt to keep their season alive, but the White Eagles had an answer to everything the visitors threw at them.
Ali Akbal gave Rockdale one last chance to clinch an equaliser when he was fouled for catching the ball outside the penalty-area, and Adem Kir made him pay when he slotted his free-kick to share the spoils.
Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown was a dejected man after the match:
?I?m disappointed with the way it finished because I thought we played well,? Brown said.
?The sad part is if we won the premiership tonight, we would have had two weeks to get over suspensions and injuries, but we have to make sure we get the result next week.?
When asked if his side were ready to play finals football, Brown was adamant they could handle the step up:
?I can?t fault the effort or the way we?re playing,? he said.
?Apart from the Bankstown game a few weeks ago, our form has been sensational.?
In the opposition shed Mile Todorovski was experiencing a familiar feeling after his side?s twelfth draw of the season:
?We probably didn?t deserve to win the game, but we didn?t deserve to lose the game,?
?In 18 years I?ve never seen a team with 12 draws.?
After making the move up from Super League to Premier League this season, Todorovski said his team had proved they deserved to remain in the state?s top competition:
?If we could finish some goals we would definitely be in the top five,? he said.
?We?re good enough to be here again next year, but that?s up to the committee.?
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Brad Boardman 65?)
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Adem Kir 90? + 5?)
Bonnyrigg Sports Club, Bonnyrigg Heights
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Crowd: 1000 Approx.
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ben McNamara; 2.Paul Dee, 3.Almir Dizdaric, 15.Josh Lawson, 8.Dominic Hudap, 11.Adem Kir, 13.Baturay Akin, 17.Pece Cvetanovski, 18.Robert Di Meglio, 19.Marino Musumeci, 23.Askin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 10.Sash Traicevski, 14.Jeffery Issa, 16.Steven Bosinovski, 21.Sam Awad, 24.James Cain
Yellow Cards: Askin Oygur 44?, Lawson 88?
Red Cards: Nil
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Ali Akbal; 2.Paul Cotte, 12.Chris Tadrosse, 20.Wade Oostendorp, 14.K.Takushyma (3.Graeme Forbes 84?), 10.Daniel Severino (17.David Gullo 84?), 11.Shane Webb (4.Michael Brown 87?), 8.Milorad Simonovic, 19.Jamie McMaster, 15.Nathan Elasi, 9.Brad Boardman
Substitutes Not Used: 7.Daniel Laiman, 90.Nenad Vekic.
Yellow Cards: Jamie McMaster 90?+1?
Red Cards: Nil
– Michael Chammas