Under-fire club pulls out late win at the MCG.
A goal to David Zaharakis with just 27 seconds left in the game was the difference between victory and failure for the Essendon Bombers as they beat Carlton at the MCG.
In the middle of a week of turmoil off the field for Essendon, as they prepare themselves for sanctions resulting from the Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s investigation into the club, the win gave the club something to smile about.
Carlton will be left to rue what might have been as they wasted several shots on goal throughout the game, as victory slipped through their fingers 12.10 (82) to 9.22 (76).
Essendon go the perfect start after they were awarded a fifty metre free, which allowed Stewart Crameri to slot the chance.
After pressuring the Bombers in their defensive fifty, the Blues bagged their first goal for the game when Troy Menzel kicking truly to give give his side the lead for the first time.
Essendon continued to show good energy through the mid-way point in the first quarter as they look to overcome the turmoil around them.
After being wasteful early in the quarter the Blues slowly started to turn their territory advantage
into goals as they edged away.
Menzel found himself in more space as he kicked his second for the quarter as he continued to cause headaches for the Bombers defence.
Brock McLean went off early with a right thigh strain with the in-form Carlton played being subbed out for the game with Nicholas Graham coming on for just his second game.
Jobe Watson put his side back in touch with a goal as a chorus of boos rained down on the Bombers skipper as they trailed but just one at quarter time.
Essendon continued to look dangerous inside their forward fifty as their open structure allowed them to get good looks at the football.
As Carlton continued to struggle to get their hands on the ball the Dons chipped away and continued to look impressive as Watson bagged his second for the game to make the margin 13.
The Bombers continued to make Carlton pay for turnovers as they rebounded well off their half back flank.
The fiery game looked set to explode as Zach Tuohy kicked a long goal to make the margin just three points, reversing much of the dominance by the Bombers in the second term.
However, Essendon hung on for a two-point lead at the long break in what was a gripping first half.
Carlton enjoyed a fast start to the third term as Lachie Henderson goaled early to give the Blues the lead.
Bryce Gibbs then steadied and goaled to make it five in a row for the Blues as they stormed to a 19 point buffer as the Bombers continued to struggle to reign in their opponents with the Blues leading by 17 at the final break.
The Bombers inched their way back into the game as they goaled to make the margin just five in what was a tight and tense final term, with a quality goal from Michael Hurley breathing life back into the game.
Amazingly the Bombers continued their comeback as they hit the lead thanks to a shot on goal from point-blank by Pat Ryder.
Henderson has a chance to put the Blues in front but his long shot on goal just clipped the post, as the score became tied at 75 with just seven minutes remaining.
Both sides traded behinds as the Blues’ inaccuracy going to prove vital if they go on to lose the game.
But the final goal went to Zaharakis after he scooped up a loose ball before running around to score with just 27 seconds left on the clock.