Newcastle Jets are set for their best run in the FFA Cup since its inception after advancing to face Northern NSW Premier League giantkillers Edgeworth Eagles in the round of 16.
The Jets staged a stunning comeback to eliminate Melbourne Victory with a 3-2 extra-time win at AAMI Park on Wednesday night, a result sealed by 19-year-old substitute Pat Langlois' first senior goal.
A win against the Eagles, who eliminated Darwin United 3-0 two weeks ago, would put Newcastle into the quarter-finals for the first time since the national knockout competition kicked off in 2013-14.
Sports news: The Newcastle Jets
Newcastle coach Ernie Merrick said the chance to play Edgeworth, at a venue and date to be confirmed, would be a perfect opportunity to showcase the code in the Jets' backyard.
"It works out well for both teams," Merrick said.
"I think it'll be great for the Newcastle community, which ever team you support ... to have our A-League team playing one from the Northern NSW NPL, it's the ideal scenario to promote football in the whole region. Hopefully there's a good crowd and either way a Newcastle team will progress into the next round."
The Jets played Edgeworth in a pre-season friendly two weekends ago and won 1-0.
"We won't be taking them lightly," Merrick said. "We'll putting our best possible squad out."
The Jets are one of only five A-League teams left in the cup, along with Adelaide, Western Sydney, Brisbane Roar and Central Coast, so this shapes as their best opportunity thus far to stake a claim for the silverware.
"We've stated right from day one that we want to do so much better than last season, which to us was a big disappointment," Merrick said.
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"That starts with the FFA Cup. It's the first competition and the boys want to progress all the way through.
"They're very keen to do well, and of course it gives us good preparation for the season proper."
Trailing 2-0 with just 16 minutes to play against the Victory, the Jets hit back with goals by Johnny Koutroumbis and Dimi Petratos to take the match to extra time.
Former Broadmeadow Magic product Langlois, more renowned as a defender, then struck in the 113th-minute to honour a promise he made to Merrick.
"As I told him to warm up, he said: 'I'm going to score the winning goal'," Merrick revealed. "I said: 'Great. That would be fantastic.' So he went out and scored a goal like a class striker, which he's never played in his life, and after he did it he walked off and said: 'I told you'."
Merrick was delighted with Panamanian import Abdiel Arroyo's 65-minute stint off the bench.
The only downside after Wednesday's win was that Newcastle's flight home on Thursday was cancelled, and they had to spend an extra 24 hours in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, the Jets are understood to be on the verge of confirming they have signed former Ireland international Wes Hoolahan, who has reportedly flown in for a medical.
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