BENDIGO City coach Greg Thomas has praised his team's fight and spirit after a 4-4 draw on the road against Men's State League 5 West rival Balmoral on Saturday.
While it was not quite the result City had craved, it did arrest a two-game losing streak and has kept the league newcomers in the hunt for a top-three finish.
The trip to Derrimut is arguably the toughest in the MSL 5 West competition.
Balmoral has conceded just one loss at its fortress since 2018.
Despite never being in front, Bendigo City had a few chances to go ahead in the dying minutes after Thomas levelled the scores at 4-4 with a penalty conversion in the 88th minute.
After conceding the opening goal in the 31st minute, Thomas said City had done well to equalise on four separate occasions throughout the match.
"They are a very good side - they've only dropped one game in four years at home and are a very big, physical side," he said.
"They had maybe four guys who are about six foot seven, or six foot eight and another couple about six foot five, which makes life difficult on a small pitch.
"We did well and did expect a few goals to be scored on such a small ground, the ball is always in the box so you have to fight like nothing else.
"The boys, to their credit, every time we went behind we came back. It was backwards and forwards all game, but we responded every time.
"We had plenty more chances to win the game, but unfortunately we just couldn't find a winner or just get our noses in front."
Thomas said it was the type of performance he had been hoping for after four weeks without a win and only the one draw.
"The boys showed a lot of fight. Obviously, we have had a rough month, but that's all we ask of them, to fight tooth and nail each week," he said.
"We scored late to make it 4-4 and had those couple of chances after that, but just couldn't get the winner.
"If someone had given us a point before we went down there we would have taken it.
"We had a good chat after the game and I think we are pumped for a good second half of the season."
Sean Boxshall led the charge on the scoresheet with two goals, while Sam Farr, who was arguably City's best alongside rising star Sam Pitson, added his fifth for the season.
Next up is an away clash against Maidstone United, which City defeated 1-0 in the opening round on March 19.
United lost 5-2 to top side Barwon on Saturday and has won four of 11 games this season.
Bendigo City (4-2-4) is currently fifth on the ladder on 16 points, five points behind Balmoral (third) and Deakin University (fourth).
Meanwhile, Bendigo City's reserves continue to hold down third sport after a brilliant 8-0 win over Balmoral.
Luke Burns contributed four goals, while Reid Murray, Joshua Brown, Ruben White and Cameron Pope each contributed one.
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