Celebrations continued well into the night when Cessnock City Hornets earned a spot in the FFA Cup third round.
The Hornets defeated the Jesmond Rams 3-0 in front of a large home crowd at Turner Park last Tuesday night courtesy of an outstanding hat-trick from Jason Zechel.
“We created history. It is the first time we have advanced into the third round,” Hornets coach Lino Gatti said.
“Jason Zechel scored a hat-trick which was outstanding. It was an outstanding performance by the whole team in fact.
“Our ball possession was excellent and gave us a lot of confidence to build on. It was a huge win.”
The club was hoping to draw a big NPL club in Tuesday night’s FFA Cup draw.
“It would be fantastic for the club financially, the fans and the development of the players if we can draw a big club,” Gatti said.
Gatti said the confidence gained in the win led to an improved performance by his young team against NSW Northern One heavyweights Cooks Hill on Sunday.
“We went down 3-1 but it was a fantastic game. We were down 3-0 at half-time but a couple of those were against the flow of play,” he said.
“We controlled the game in the first 15 minutes and then there was an opportunist goal and were suddenly 1-0 down.
“The momentum of the game changed our way again, but unfortunately we didn’t take our chances including a good one-on-one opportunity with the keeper.
“Soon after our keeper made an error in the box off a corner. He went up for the ball, fumbled and the momentum of bodies in the six-yard box took the ball across the line.
“The third goal came just before half-time when we left the wide right Cooks Hill player alone and he had a free shot which bounced awkwardly and beat our keeper.
“He did everything right as far as positioning and it was just one of those bounces. He was quite upset about it. I told him it was all OK, but I did give him a bit of stick about the second goal.”
Gatti said he re-focused his team at half-time and challenged them to view the game as a nil-all draw.
“We took the game to them in the second half and got one back through Jason Zechel. Liam Anderson came on just before half-time and did very, very well.
“We were very competitive, we kept a clean sheet after the break and scored which gave the boys a lot of confidence. I thought both sides had chances in the second half, but on balance we were the better side.”
The Hornets are away to South Cardiff on Wednesday at 8pm and Gatti believes they can get a result.
“Given our performance in the second half against Cooks Hill and the FFA Cup win I’m confident of a result.”