LUKE Mutton showed what wearing the captain's armband is all about on Saturday night as his double helped Bathurst '75 to salvage a 2-all draw against the Mudgee Wolves.
Mudgee zipped out to a 2-0 lead within the first 25 minutes of the match at Proctor Park, putting Bathurst '75s undefeated record to start the Western Premier League season under threat.
But Mutton scored just before half-time, then in the second stanza five minutes after the Wolves had a player red carded, the '75 skipper found the equaliser.
Mutton came close to a winner as well - an attempt grazing the crossbar with 11 minutes left - but that '75 came from behind for the second week in a row to force a draw was still a good outcome.
The Wolves opened scoring in the 15th minute off a free kick, '75 failing to clear the ball as it was curled into the left post which allowed Cooper Rowe to pounce.
Ten minutes later the visitor's advantage doubled when a cross played in from the right edge was fumbled by '75s keeper and Josh Hurt swooped.
'75 in the main tried to attack via through balls, but the Wolves defence handled that pressure.
It took a moment of Toma Curry determination - chasing hard to get to a ball played down the right wing and keeping it in play - that finally provided '75 with the attacking catalyst they needed.
Curry then worked the ball into the box and cut a pass back to Mutton who came up with a clinical finish.
Mutton's goal lifted '75 and they dominated possession in the early stages of the second half.
Agieg Aluk, Damien Booth and Nikki Spice all fired in shots on target, the pressure on the Wolves then intensifying further when a player was sent off for his second bookable offence.
Finally in the 72nd minute the hosts had the equaliser, Mutton capitalising after the Mudgee goalkeeper fumbled attempting to catch a cross.
While it stung Mudgee that they were forced to settle for a draw after leading 2-0 for the second week in a row, coach Harry Hall still saw the positives.
Given that their defensive line-up was vastly different and yet Hall's side in the main held up well at the back for the final 24 minutes when they were a player short was a plus.
"I think it's two weeks in a row where we've been in a good position to go and get the three points, but obviously the other team scored a couple of goals there," he said.
"When you lose a player it's always an uphill battle, but I think if you look at when you're playing with 10 men and you're playing 2-2, it's a different story, you come away pretty positive with the result.
"We had few of our defenders missing today and ended up with a back line with three wingers and right back and to be fair, they held their own and did not let too many chances through."
The other positive Hall took from the match is that his Wolves still earned competition points - something that proved elusive in 2021.
"The biggest thing for me is that last year it took us eight weeks to get a single point and now against two quality teams we've been there and thereabouts and we're in a better position than we were last year," he said.
"We're competing against teams, Bathurst '75 are a quality team and should be near the top of the league come the end of the season."
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