The Westfield W-League semi-final between Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC could be the most contentious match in the history of the competition.
In a parody of the well-known football cliché "it was a game of two halves", the most contentious and controversial Westfield W-League match in the history of the competition, the semi-final between Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC, could be described as "a game of two minutes".
As the game moved deep into stoppage time, Sydney looked as comfortable as you can do in football with their one goal lead. However, the game was about to turn in an unanticipated and unpredictable fashion.
As the clocked ticked down Sydney FC player Kylie Ledbrook lay prone on the surface, apparently suffering from cramp. At Sydney-s second attempt at putting the ball out of play the referee finally allowed Ledbrook to be treated.
Just prior to this Brisbane goalkeeper Casey Dumont had attempted to remove Ledbrook from the field. Eventually she was treated and left the field to be replaced by Brit Whitfield.
Then part one of the drama began as Sydney anticipated Brisbane would return possession to them from the throw-in restart. Instead Brisbane kept the ball and essentially launched, in gridiron Hail Mary mode, a bomb into the Sydney FC penalty area. A scramble ensued, the ball broke to Gielnik and in the blink of an eye the game was tied at 1-1, with barely a minute of time left.
To say the Sydney bench was apoplectic by the decision of the Brisbane players not to return possession to them would be an understatement.
Yet worse was to come as part two of the drama began. Within a minute of the equaliser a rash challenge by Sydney-s Kyah Simon on Vedrana Popovic resulted in her second yellow card and ejection from the game.
Stajcic-s reaction to the decision combined with his anger at the previous incident resulted in his expulsion.
So within a time span of less than two minutes a game that seemed to be in the bag for Sydney FC was turned on its head, as they faced extra time, one player down and with their coach watching on from the stands.
Sydney felt aggrieved and infuriated by what they perceived as Brisbane-s unsportsmanlike actions. They would have expected the Roar to return possession to them, as normal football protocol dictates.
In fact, they claimed that their players failed to close down the Brisbane team as they automatically assumed the return of possession.
While making no official comment it has been suggested that the Roar felt Sydney were guilty of their own lack of sportsmanship with time-wasting tactics. The dispute is liable to resonate some time.
Regardless of the controversy this was a contest Sydney should have won comfortably. They dominated the game, had some misfortune, hitting the woodwork in two occasions and were guilty of wasteful finishing from several gilt-edged chances.
They were also disadvantaged by an erroneous offside call against Simon that resulted in her receiving an unwarranted yellow card for being deemed to have kicked the ball away. In reality she was clearly onside and her goal should have stood.
Conflict tends to hover around this fixture as we have two teams filled with players of international pedigree, who have winning expectations.
Tension is always lingering below the surface and on occasion bubbles over. In this game however we witnessed an eruption, on the field, on the benches and in the stands.
The contest between these two fierce adversaries has evolved from one of intense rivalry to now a fully blown feud. Expect some fireworks in season five.
For now, however, Brisbane will be leaving this distraction behind them and be totally focused on this weekend-s decider. An intriguing contest featuring Brisbane, the grand final specialists, and a Canberra team undefeated all season awaits.
In the past Canberra, who contested the final in season one, would be considered underdogs. However they have taken the competition by storm this year and deservedly finished in top spot.
A team full of confidence, playing a positive attacking brand of football and with a passionate, parochial support behind them will be difficult to beat.
In the other corner is a team full of experience and match-winners, with the habit of producing the required results in big matches. Brisbane will go into this game with the expectation of winning.
For me it-s too close to call but I-m sure it will be another outstanding final and another great advertisement for the Westfield W-League