Wednesday night’s thumping win in Darwin not only secured Brisbane Strikers passage to the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16, but it reminded the nation of the talents of Jonti Richter.
Richter came on as a second-half substitute in Strikers' record-equalling 6-0 drubbing of Rovers Darwin, scoring the final goal of the night and playing a crucial role in two others.
The 33-year-old attacking midfielder previously shone at the highest levels of the game in Australia – plying his trade with Northern Spirit in the National Soccer League before stints with Queensland Roar and New Zealand Knights in the Hyundai A-League.
While part of his side’s previous Westfield FFA Cup campaigns, Richter’s performance on Wednesday night was especially heart-warming for Strikers as the fan favourite continues to return to full flight following a long battle with injury.
“I’ve had a rough trot over the years with many a surgery and doing my ACL last year and having another surgery really knocked me around,” Richter said.
“I honestly thought maybe it was time for me to hang up the boots but I really didn’t want to go out that way.
“It’s been a really long road – nearly two years – to get back on the pitch, and to get a goal and contribute on the pitch was a great feeling.”
Richter’s goal came in the closing stages, however shortly after the hour his earlier speculative strike benefitted from an unfortunate touch from Rovers’ Matthew Cawley to cross the line for an own goal.
“I’d like to claim an assist there but it was definitely a poor shot from me so a really big thanks to Rovers for putting that in the goal for me,” Richter said with tongue firmly in cheek.
Richter added the credit on the night belonged to the whole team as Strikers equalled Melbourne Victory’s record for the biggest winning margin in the national stages of the Westfield FFA Cup.
“It could’ve been a tricky one for us up there if we had let them get a goal early or get a bit of a flow on, so the boys did a good job scoring some early goals.
“We lost our way a little bit in the second half of the first half and towards the end of the game where it opened up and got a bit scrappy – but the main thing is that we got the job done.
“In the FFA Cup you’ve got to give every team ther credit they deserve because they’ve made it to this stage of the competition.”
Richter’s cameo saw plenty of praise from former Central Coast Mariners coach Phil Moss, who served as part of the Fox Sports commentary team on the night.
Richter said it was pleasing that Moss, who coached him in Northern Spirit's youth ranks over a decade ago, singled out his impact.
“He was one of the coaches that picked me out of the AIS and gave me my first start in a professional club, so I’m very thankful to him for that.
“He also coached me when I left the New Zealand Knights and I went to Manly United for a season before he went to Mariners and I went overseas.
“It’s funny how in football circles you keep bumping into these people,” Richter added.
Richter and his Strikers teammates will now turn their focus to the PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Premiership race in coming weeks where they are in a neck-and-neck race with FNQ Heat.
This week they host Western Pride before a top-the-table showdown against Heat at Perry Park on Saturday week that could decide this year’s Premiership winner.
Strikers will discover their next opponent in the Westfield FFA Cup next month following the conclusion of the Round of 32.