With the clock ticking down to half-time, Western Sydney Wanderers sat all square with Central Coast Mariners in what had been an arm-wrestle of a first 45 minutes at Spotless Stadium.
Markus Babbel’s side, who entered the match sitting in eighth position on the Hyundai A-League ladder, were staring down the barrel of a disappointing performance in what has proved to be a difficult start to their campaign.
Enter Keanu Baccus.
Just before the break the 20-year old midfielder gathered the ball outside the penalty area and unleashed a low driving shot past Ben Kennedy and into the bottom left corner.
Baccus’ individual effort and Jaushua Sotirio’s second half strike paved the way for a 2-0 win for the home side and relief for Babbel, who issued his troops with a rallying cry in the post-match press conference.
“It was what I’m looking for, reaction,” Babbel said.
“I said this to the players during the week, you can fall down, this can happen but stand up – stand up and fight for your dreams, for the success.
“This for me today was outstanding…everyone gave everything and that’s it, the good luck came on your side because you deserve it and to be fair it was a good performance.”
In typical passionate fashion, the German coach spoke highly of his young brigade, who anchored the middle of the pitch for the home side.
“We are playing with two 20-year guys in our midfield and you have to know that sometimes the performance won’t be the best but this is normal for a young player,” he said.
“What we have with Keanu and Jordy (Jordan O’Doherty), especially Keanu, since I’m here he’s improving a lot…one of the best players on the pitch.
“If he’s doing the right things and listens to us he shows a top performance but it’s not just today he’s shown good performances before.”
Babbel also took time to single out Sotirio for praise, highlighting the 23-year old’s work ethic while challenging him to step up.
“Jaushua did well in that last 14 days in training, he was always hard working,” he said.
“I decided last week was different but I’m thinking now is time, I spoke to him and said now is the time to score a goal or make an assist.
“Now is the time, you have everything, you are quick, you can run and you can defend but you are a striker and you have to be there in the dangerous places.”