Richmond returned to the top of the VPL ladder and at the same time severely dented South Melbourne FC’s finals aspirations after coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at John Cain Memorial Park on Sunday afternoon. A wonder strike from Michael Ferrante earned the Eagles a point in a match where they had been outclassed for the vast majority of the 90 minutes.

South started the match on fire and almost opened the scoring in the first few minutes when Joe Keenan beat goalkeeper Stjepan Gal in a foot race to the ball but hit the post instead of the back of the net. South were clearly dominating and got the goal they deserved on 15 minutes when Fernando De Moraes put away the loose ball after Gal had made a save off Marinos Gasparis. The goal put the South midfielder into outright tenth position on South’s all-time leading League goal scorers list.

Steven O’Dor was celebrating his 100th League match for South and the centre-half marked the occasion in the best way possible by heading in South’s second for the afternoon ten minutes before halftime. Keenan’s in-swinging corner was perfectly placed for O’Dor to beat a flapping Gal to the ball and head into the empty goal. The 2-0 lead was more than what South deserved after a dominant first half in which Richmond was lucky not to be at least three or four goals down.

South continued its dominance after the break and had two glorious chances to finish the game off; however it was unable to do so as the Eagles just managed to hold on. Richmond pulled a goal back midway through the second half in controversial circumstances, after Keenan looked to have been fouled in South’s attack. However despite the pleas for a free kick, play was continued and as a result Richmond won possession, took the ball down the field to the waiting Daniel Visevic who found time and space to put the ball past South’s unlucky goalkeeper Peter Zois.

Richmond could sense South’s vulnerability and punished the home side again when Ferrante gained possession outside the area and let fly with an unstoppable shot that smashed into the back of the net. Despite being outclassed for so long, the Eagles showed exactly why they were the League leaders as they had somehow clawed their way back into the match and ultimately won a point. Had it not been for some Zois saves late in the match, Richmond could have very well won the game but instead were more than happy to settle for a draw.

South must win its two remaining matches and hope that other results fall favourably in order to have any chance of playing finals football in 2010. The first of those huge matches is against Oakleigh Cannons at Jack Edwards Reserve on Friday night.