Devonport City’s NPL title defence is under serious threat in the wake of a 3-2 away loss to Hobart Zebras.
The surprise defeat could place the Strikers up to seven points behind South Hobart should the competition frontrunners win over lowly Clarence United on Sunday.
The visitors had thought to have equalised late in the clash and given hope for an injury-time winner, but the Zebras struck back within 40 seconds of the restart.
Raph Reynolds initially had gotten on the end of a perfectly-weighted Edward Bidwell chip to nod in Devonport’s second goal at the 88th minute.
But the Strikers’ zealous urgency to attack at all costs for victory left them open at the back, allowing John Buga to beat keeper Matt Zaikos one-on-one on the back of a Matthew Sanders cross.
Considering Devonport’s up front dominance on Saturday – especially in the first half – the result was another lost opportunity after seven days earlier drawing against last-placed Launceston City.
Sanders had capitalised in the 17th minute on a Devonport defensive blunder to hammer home his 13th goal for the season and the lead.
Brayden Mann returned fire just eight minutes later off a perfect through ball from Michael Holden leveled up the scores.
But three goalscoring chances from Holden in the final nine minutes of the half that went begging hurt.
Zebras would regain the lead in the 54th minute from the spot when Zaikos clipped Sanders when reaching for the ball inside the box.