Kwasnik recalls Mariners’ ‘greatest moment’

ON Sunday 10 February, 2008, an impressive and passionate 19,112 fans – the majority clad in yellow and navy – took their seat at Bluetongue Stadium hopeful of witnessing a gallant Mariners effort in the second leg of that season’s Hyundai A-League major semi-final.

Adam Kwasnik celebrates his strike in the Mariners' 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets in the 2008 Hyundai A-League major semi-final second leg

ON Sunday 10 February, 2008, an impressive and passionate 19,112 fans - the majority clad in yellow and navy - took their seat at Bluetongue Stadium hopeful of witnessing a gallant Mariners effort in the second leg of that season-s Hyundai A-League major semi-final.

Down 2-0 to their bitter northern rivals the Newcastle Jets after the first leg played in the Hunter, the then Lawrie McKinna coached Mariners knew they had a second bite of the cherry to make the league-s showpiece event should they need it.

Indeed, just two days prior Queensland (now Brisbane) Roar had disposed of Sydney FC 2-0 at Suncorp Stadium to qualify for the preliminary final, and if truth be told, before kick-off it seemed likely that McKinna-s men would need to beat Frank Farina-s charges at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena the following weekend to secure their second shot at Australian football-s ultimate prize.

With the odds stacked against them - just the way they like it - the Mariners revelled in the atmosphere of the occasion, producing a sparkling display to turn the tables on Gary van Egmond-s Newcastle outfit. Triumphing 3-0 after extra time and 3-2 on aggregate, the league-s community club earned a direct passage to the Hyundai A-League decider ultimately played at the Sydney Football Stadium.

It was attacker Adam Kwasnik, a firm fan favourite of the yellow and navy faithful that got the comeback rolling with his strike eight minutes before the interval. Making a determined run past Newcastle-s newly acquired Korean youth international Jin-Hyung Song, then right-back Tarek Elrich down the left side, Kwasnik-s shot from the edge of the area took a deflection and looped into the back of the net, leaving Jets custodian Ante Covic rooted to the spot.

The crowd in attendance erupted and shook the stadiums- very foundations, while for the fans watching on television locally, nationally and worldwide, commentators Michael Cockerill and Andy Harper articulated the action. “It-s game on! That-s the lifeline the Mariners were looking for!” Cockerill pronounced. “This is outstanding work from Adam Kwasnik. Central Coast are alive in the play-off for the A-League Grand Final!” Harper added.

Four years on the man who got the superb comeback cooking admits his memory of his goal is vague, but notes the euphoric feeling of overturning the 2-0 deficit in front of a packed, proud, and loud Bluetongue gallery is somewhat sharper. A 74th minute leveller from striker Sasho Petrovski forced the match into extra time before Petrovski struck again five minutes into the 30 added minutes to seal the Mariners their spot in the decider.

It remains arguably the Mariners- greatest triumph.

“I think it was one of the greatest moments in the club-s history,” Kwasnik said. “It was a very important semi-final against our greatest rival, Newcastle. I managed to get the first goal - it was a bit of a blur to be fair and it took a fair deflection off I think it was Tarek Elrich - and it sort of got the balling.

“Sasho Petrovski - one of the greatest players to play for the club - he turned up that day and he turned the game on its head by himself alone.

“I-ll never forget the crowd, it was an amazing crowd and it was one moment that I-ll never forget.”

Indeed, Kwasnik admits the spectacular turnaround is a time-to-time topic of conversation for he and his teammates that were at the club back in 2008: “Myself, Wilko (Alex Wilkinson), Hutch (John Hutchinson) and Brad Porter, we-ve shared some great memories at the club and that day was very special for us. It has been spoken about briefly (this week). We-ve overturned that deficit before so there-s no reason why we can-t do it again.”

And Kwasnik believes Roar-s midweek exertions in Asia may take their toll as his team look to play their usual calm, composed style - biding their time before doing their utmost to land a killer blow.

“The game-s not dead and buried after ten, fifteen minutes,” he said. “It-s a 90 minute game and we know what we have to do. An early goal could play a major part (but) if that doesn-t happen we-ve just got to stick to our structure, stick to our game plan.”

“I think mentally it-s going to be very tough for them (Brisbane). It-s a tough eight, nine hour flight each way. I think they got a decent result against Ulsan. In saying that, the legs, and more importantly mentally they-ll be very fatigued and 2-0 is a dangerous score in any football match.”

“We-re going to go in there full of confidence, and we-re just going to worry about ourselves.”

“We-ve got a great bunch of supporters but this Sunday we need as many as possible to make a real noise. Who knows, if we get that goal I think Brisbane might tweak a little and it will definitely be game on.”

Central Coast commence their bid to overturn the 2-0 deficit against Brisbane Roar in the second leg of this season-s Hyundai A-League major semi-final at 5pm on Sunday.

If the clash turns out to be half as exciting and memorable as the Mariners- aggregate triumph over Newcastle four years ago, fans are in for an Easter treat.

The club will also be presented with the Hyundai A-League Premier-s Plate in a ceremony prior to kick-off. As coincidence would have it, the Mariners- first Premier-s Plate was presented to the club before the epic fight back from 2-0 down against Newcastle four years ago.

Re-live and be inspired by one of the Mariners' greatest triumphs. Watch the video below!

Central Coast Mariners vs. Brisbane Roar - Hyundai A-League major semi-final second leg Sunday 8 April - 5pm (kick-off) Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match. Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter!. The official match hash-tag is #HALccmbri. Add #GoMariners and #ALeagueFinals if you have room to help get the game trending! Special Event: Central Coast Mariners to be presented with the Hyundai A-League Premiership Plate prior to kick-off. Be part of the crowd and applaud the boys for their phenomenal efforts throughout the home and away season