'It was heart attack stuff': Crusaders clinch major win
Soccer: It was the longest five minutes of Liam Shipton's life, but up there with some of the sweetest.
Up against Olympic FC, one of the most formidable opponents in the NPL Queensland competition, it was always going to be a test of character for Magpies Crusaders United across 90 minutes of football.
Confronted by top players including former Wellington Phoenix midfielder Alex Smith, the pressure was absorbed by the Mackay and Whitsunday outfit as they claimed a captivating 4-3 win.
In the battle to avoid relegation, the young squad have rallied to distance themselves from the bottom of the ladder and breathe renewed confidence into their campaign.
"This is why you train, for games like this. I remember (former coach, Chris) Gallo said at the start of the year players play for big moments, and you could see the relief there,” Shipton said.
"It must be a Sunday thing, because I think we beat Gold Coast United here on a Sunday and that kept us up. I think Western Pride are going to struggle now - catch us if you can.”
It was an enthralling contest from the first whistle. Despite falling behind 3-1 in the second half, Magpies Crusaders refused to throw in the towel against their much fancied rivals.
Two months ago, in the midst of a harrowing losing streak, they might have done. Now that is no longer the case.
A hat-trick to Michael Lyall and a match-winning strike to Joshua Brookes put them in front, before their fortitude held strong in defence.
For head coach Henry Kennel, it was an early career highlight.
After he took the reins in late May, his side have undergone a complete shift in their performance and Sunday's effort epitomised their rapid development.
It was heart attack stuff, Kennel said, but a proud moment for him and his young contingent.
"We keep on repeating it: we're in this together,” he said.
"I enjoyed that immensely; to come out against a quality side like Olympic - it's one for the memory bank.
"At times it wasn't pretty, but some games you have to win messy ... we're building resilience and that's the MCU way.”
Magpies Crusaders will have little time to revel in their meteoric victory, with an FFA Cup match against Coomera Colts on Wednesday night.
Midfielder Shipton carried a niggling hamstring injury into the match, but was confident he would be strapping on the boots for another round at Sologinkin oval.
"It's a tough one, you want to play and at 26 the age catches up a bit,” Shipton said.
"Especially with these younger boys running around now, I saw them on the massage table and told them to get off. We'll just patch up and go again, what's the worst that can happen?”