Nick Cowburn proved the unlikely savior for Newcastle Jets when he headed in the 87th minute equalizer against Sydney FC on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old Novocastrian came off the bench in his 60th A-League game to score his first goal in the top flight and level the scores at 1-1 in front of a vocal home crowd.
It was a crucial point for last season’s Grand Finalists who are still winless after four games and remain at the bottom of the table with derby rivals Central Coast Mariners.
For Cowburn, who has been pushed forward after spending most of his A-League career playing at right back, it could be the start of something big.
“I definitely see him as a midfielder,” Coach Ernie Merrick said post-match. “He’s had a terrific pre-season.
"A really good decision we made early on in the pre-season was to go to China and not take five or six or even seven senior players, so a lot of players who are inexperienced stood up.
“The likes of Angus Thurgate really stood up and Nick Cowburn, Lachlan Jackson – it gave them an opportunity. When we went to Spain they improved even more.
"So they’re putting their hand up and it was good to know that off the bench I could bring in some players that are really ready to go.”
Cowburn was delighted to do his bit after Sydney, through Alex Brosque, took the lead on 20 minutes.
“My job as a substitute is just to try and make an impact in the game and that’s the main focus in my head,” he said.
“I’m not too worried about the goals to games ratio, I just wanted to do my best and try and get the three points for the team.”
Cowburn came in for Ben Kantarovski who had a good game but was never expected to play the full 90 after a calf and hamstring injury.
But Merrick said he wasn’t planning on rushing Cowburn and Thurgate into the starting XI while the side continues to gel.
Jason Hoffman has been given the unexpected role of leading line while striker Roy O’Donovan is not back from suspension until just before Christmas.
In the meantime the coach has some promising talent fit and ready to fire off the bench.
Merrick added: “I thought Nick did a great job as soon as he came on...and Angus Thurgate for a little fellow caused quite a bit of trouble.
“He pushed and shoved – I quite like that. He made some good through runs. He’s a real player for the future.”