When the Westfield FFA Cup kicked off two years ago, NPL and lower tier clubs that qualified for the Round of 32 hoped to make the most of the national spotlight. And for Adelaide City, that’s exactly what happened.
The South Australian outfit, a former NSL powerhouse, drew a glamorous opponent in Hyundai A-League outfit Western Sydney Wanderers.
Coming off a Grand Final appearance in May and preparing for an Asian Champions League quarter final against Guangzhou Evergrande later in August - a tournament they famously won - Wanderers weren’t expected to have too much trouble progressing.
But City, coached by former Socceroo Damian Mori, had other ideas.
At Marden Sports Complex in Adelaide, lone strike from youngster Thomas Love with 15 minutes remaining earned the part-timers a famous victory. And what a goal it was too!
The 18-year-old picked up the ball on the halfway line and weaved through the heart of the Wanderers defence, beating several players before calmly slotting the ball home.
It sparked scenes of mayhem at the ground with Love swamped by teammates as he ran to celebrate with the club’s supporters.
Speaking after the game, Love described scoring the winning goal as one of the happiest moments of his life and hailed the discipline of his team to execute Mori’s game plan.
“I was stoked, absolutely stoked. It’s just an unbelievable feeling. “Basically I just saw the space and ran for it.
“I was planning to pass it off for Costa but I saw the opportunity so I thought I might as well take it. The boys played spectacularly.
“We stuck to the game plan, everything that Damien told us to do before the game we stuck to it. We tried our best and thankfully we came out on top at the end of the day."
An under-strength Wanderers, missing a number of players ahead of their quarter final, had chances but failed to capitalise.
Star striker Tomi Juric had two clear-cut chances in the opening stanza but couldn’t convert in an open, free-flowing encounter.
Tony Popovic’s side pushed for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes but a desperate City outfit managed to hold firm, clinging on for a famous victory in front of more than 2500 fans.
Unfortunately City won’t be involved in this year’s FFA Cup, with either Adelaide Comets or Metrostars to represent South Australia in the Round of 32.
But the memory of that great game will live long in the memory of all City fans.