Swinburne FC may have caused the biggest ‘cupset’ of the Australia Cup 2023 already.
The Magic of the Cup was on full display in Preliminary Round 1, as the Victorian Metro 4 side eliminated State League 4 opposition, Lyndale United, a club five tiers above them, on penalties.
Coachless, away from home with just 14 players in their first hit out of the season after four training sessions, Swinburne led 1-0 heading into the break.
They would find themselves 2-1 down in the final moments having used all their substitutions before stand-in coach and centre-back Jonathan Mandaradoni equalised with a timely header.
Neither side could break the deadlock in extra time with the score remaining 2-2 as it came down to a shootout.
“Coming in to penalties we were all enthusiastic to just make it this far when we looked for certain like getting knocked out,” said Club President, Thomas Burchsmith.
“Everyone had a smile and had a laugh because ultimately no matter what, taking Lyndale to pens was good enough.”
Midfielder Mackenzie Hyder scored the winner on a dream debut for the club to win in the shootout 5-3 and mark the first time ever that Swinburne has progressed past the first round.
“Last year left a bad taste in our mouths getting knocked out 3-0 to North Melbourne Athletic (State League 4), knowing we could do better,” said Mandaradoni.
“And we were always saying what if?
“Then Saturday was our perfect Australia Cup moment, backs against the wall, playing away from home, no official coach yet, couple weeks of training in runners, and we just didn’t give up.
“Just playing with no fear because we had nothing to lose.
“We aren’t fancied to do anything against those State league clubs so the pressure is on them to beat lowly opposition.”
Swinburne’s reward is a road trip from Glen Iris to the Victoria’s east to face Australia Cup debutant Sale United FC from Latrobe Valley Soccer League.
Match details are to be confirmed by Football Victoria.
Full of confidence, Burchsmith says the squad are up for the challenge as they hope to continue the Magic of the Cup into Round 3.
“We had to plug Sale into Google Maps to find out where that was and there was some shocked faces when the drive said 2.5 hours,” he said.
“But we’re keen, we see this matchup as another challenge for us and hoping we can go one more round in the Cup.
“I think it would have been tough to convince boys to travel if Sale was our Round 1 matchup but the level of motivation and determination on the back of our win last week makes this fixture so exciting for the boys with the belief there that we can win again, and you never know what can happen.”