Adelaide United were forced to settle for a draw with Newcastle, a controversial refereeing decision seeing Dario Vidosic's late strike disallowed at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Adelaide United played out a dramatic 1-1 draw with the Newcastle Jets at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday, which ended in high controversy after Dario Vidosic was denied a stunning 90th-minute winner by a late offside call.
Vidosic thought he had conjured the sealer when he pulled down a superb strike from a waste-height gather but, after consultation with the linesman, referee Lucien Laverdure called offside and the Reds' exalted celebrations came to an abrupt end, replaced by deafening boos and jeers from the home faithful.
Earlier, an uncharacteristic lapse in judgement by Reds goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic gave the Jets the lead in the 43rd minute when he illegally pouched a misguided Adelaide throw-in.
The infringement was picked up by Laverdure, who awarded the free kick inside the home side's penalty area, taken by Craig Goodwin and buried by veteran Michael Bridges off a deflection.
The Reds equalised via Marcelo Carrusca in the 49th minute of in an entertaining contest that had everything, right from the opening seconds.
With their season on the line, the visitors set a frenetic early pace.
With a well-delivered strike from an early corner, captain Ruben Zadkovich forced Galekovic into an awkward block, which resulted in another corner.
From that corner, Connor Chapman's header found the back of the net but Adam Taggart was called for offside.
And that was just in the opening 90 seconds.
Galekovic watched the ball pass him for the second time following a clever lob from a red-hot Taggart, but the teenaged striker's finish was ruled out by the linesman's flag.
Another offside run from the talented Taggart two minutes later forced the under-siege United gloveman into a sprawling save.
Meanwhile, Vidosic did his best to single-handedly keep his team in the hunt.
He found space in the seventh minute only to steer his shot well wide to the left before almost slotting one of the goals of the season.
On the break and with only Dominik Ritter in his path, Vidosic chested the ball down, bunted it over spellbound Ritter's head and with a one-touch volley cracked it on target, only denied by a wonderful save from former team-mate Mark Birighitti.
The two were at it again barely a minute later, when Birighitti was forced into a low save from a Vidosic header.
Vidosic's virtuosos aside, Newcastle bossed proceedings early.
Ritter had a near-miss on 23 minutes from a metre out, cracking a rising ball into the cross bar.
In supreme playmaking form, Goodwin picked Cameron Watson's pocket but pushed his shot wide when he pulled the trigger in the 31st minute, while James Brown's header shortly after looked promising but sailed high.
Newcastle were finally rewarded following Galekovic's brain fade late in the half when he grabbed an ordinary United throw-in and was penalised.
Goodwin took the free kick inside the penalty area, with a wall of Adelaide players in front of him.
His shot was low and hard and rebounded off the 'wall', straight to Bridges, who opportunistically buried the opening goal in the 43rd minute to give his side a leg-up entering the interval.
The Reds lifted after half-time and equalised early through classy Carrusca.
The Argentine winger pushed the ball around Goodwin, took off with a burst of pace and, with the Jets defence standing off him, got the ball back and curled it past Birighitti.
With Carrusca firing, the Reds started to control the tempo and the visitors suddenly looked rattled.
A brilliant run and curling Iain Ramsay strike from the left in the 63rd minute was palmed away by a lunging Birighitti before a header from substitute Jeronimo Neumann moments later from a Carrusca cross crashed into the crossbar.
Things got heated when ex-Adelaide captain Jon McKain and former Reds team-mate Zenon Caravella got physical with some shirt-tugging and had to be separated.
Neither player gave an inch in the exchange, nor did either team in what was an exciting deadlocked contest.
Bet365 Man of the Match: Jake Barker-Daish The young midfielder was in everything in his second straight start for the Reds, showing just how much talent he has throughout a tight contest.