A LAST-MINUTE goal from Brad Perry clinched Heathcote District a thrilling five-point win over Horsham District on Saturday.
In their second inter-league meeting at the Horsham City Oval in three years, Heathcote prevailed 16.10 (106) to 15.11 (101).
It was a gripping encounter where little separated the two sides all day.
The biggest margin at any of the breaks was the 12 points Heathcote led by at half-time, 8.4 to 5.10.
By three quarter-time Horsham had trimmed the margin to three points on the back of a seven-goal to five third term that set the match up for a thrilling finish.
And it went right down to the wire.
With Horsham leading by one point in the last minute, Heathcote's Perry - one of the many recruits into the league this year - marked a pass from Kahl Oliver and from 40m nailed the set-shot.
Perry's goal put Heathcote up by five points before the siren sounded soon after the resumption of play.
"Both sides kept at it all day and it was just a really good game of footy," Heathcote coach Murray Collins said.
"There were stages where we would get a run-on, then they would come back and get a run-on. Basically, whichever team was dominating in the midfield was winning at the time.
"It would have been a great game to watch."
Full-forward Oliver was superb for Heathcote and proved one of the key differences between the two sides with a dominant performance.
The three-time Lockington-Bamawm United premiership coach has battled frustrating injuries in recent seasons, but Oliver is back at the top of his game this year and booted seven goals for Heathcote.
“Ollie was fantastic for us and it was great that he put his hand up,” Collins said.
“The four leaders we had in Ollie, Stacy Fiske, Jye Keath and Tim Hill were all brilliant.”
As well as kicking the match-winning goal, Perry was also one of Heathcote’s best players through the midfield.
“He was brilliant in tight and also linked up really well,” Collins said.
Young onballer Koe Ngawati, who kicked an important goal in the last quarter, ruckman Lochlan Sirret and defenders Marcus Angove and captain Tim Hill were others in the best players for Heathcote.
Jarrod Findlay kicked three goals and Linton Jacobs chipped in with two for Heathcote.
Jacobs copped a heavy knock running back with the flight of the ball early in the match, but played the game out.
“It was one of those games where the boys just kept working away,” Collins said.
“They got out to a couple of goals in front during the last quarter, but the boys fought it out and got the result.”
The win lifts Heathcote to No.18 in the AFL Victoria Country championship rankings and sets up a clash next year with Central Murray.
Central Murray lost to Nepean by 39 points on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Horsham District coach Geoff Burdett reiterated Collins' sentiments regarding the standard of the contest.
"It was a great game, a good hard contest, and our tackling was excellent for most of the day," Burdett said.
"As their player was lining up for goal at the end, I thought if he kicked a point it would be a draw and that might have been a fitting result."
Deek Roberts (two goals) was the best player for Horsham.
Heathcote District 3.1 8.4 13.7 16.10 (106)
Horsham District 3.7 5.10 12.10 15.11 (101)
GOALS – Heathcote District: K. Oliver 7, J. Findlay 3, L. Jacobs 2, G. Bowles, K. Ngawati, B. Perry, H. Sirett 1. Horsham District: S. Weddell 4, M. Phelan, S. Argall 3, D. Roberts 2, C. Hobbs, S. Carey, S. Jasper 1.
BEST – Heathcote District: K. Oliver, B. Perry, K. Ngawati, L. Sirett, T. Hill, M. Angove. Horsham District: D. Roberts, B. Forsyth, T. Wade, A. Chavasse, C. Hobbs, S. Weddell.