'Heart attack material': Stajcic urges Mariners to build on F3 Derby drama
Central Coast Mariners interim boss Alen Stajcic could not have imagined a Hyundai A-League debut like this.
Stajcic has only been at the helm of the Gosford club for a matter of days, but it could take years until an occasion like Saturday's 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets arises again.
In it, the 45-year-old witnessed his side nearly relinquish their three-goal lead, with Mariners gloveman Ben Kennedy saving two stoppage-time penalties from Jets striker Roy O'Donovan to prevent another calamitous collapse.
It was the club's first win away from home since November 2017, and a moment Stajcic believes could be a watershed one for the struggling Mariners.
“It was heart attack material that’s for sure, if you wrote a movie script it would probably turn out something like that," he told FOX Sports after the match.
“I’ve been here for five minutes and what a great victory for the team.
“The team spirit, the grit that they showed to grind that out considering what happened last week... you couldn’t be any prouder as a fan and as a club.
“[I’m] just really proud of the effort, they really deserved that three points tonight just based on effort alone.
“We always knew we were starting at the bottom and you really have to work hard to grind it out sometimes.
“I’ve said all week that it’s a great squad on paper but you know when you lose so many matches in a row you start to lose that confidence and belief in yourself.
“Hopefully that’s just the starting point of that to add that belief and confidence in the group moving forward and trying to attack these last five games with the same kind of effort and vigour.”
With ninth-placed Brisbane Roar falling 2-1 to Melbourne Victory in Saturday evening's other Hyundai A-League clash, the gap between the bottom-placed Mariners and Brisbane stands at five points.
It is a deficit that Stajcic and his side can now attack with genuine confidence after playing their part in an extraordinary Hyundai A-League climax.
“When you’re at the bottom you’ve only got two things as I said in the press conference - you can lie down and die, or you can stand up and fight and I think they showed that they’ve got heart and spirit," Stajcic said.
“I’ve always known that they’ve got the technique and capacity to play good football matches so you’ve got to mix all those together to be good football team.
“Hopefully today is just the start of them moving forward with all those different aspects of the game.”