Ben Kennedy saved two penalties in injury-time as the Central Coast Mariners hung on to beat the Newcastle Jets 3-2 and ensure a memorable start to the A-League coaching career of Alen Stajcic.
The former Matlidas boss plans to restore his reputation at the Mariners.
He took a major step on that front in an incredible victory at a rain-sodden McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
After failing to craft a shot in the first half, the Mariners burst to life with goals to Jordan Murray (48th), Jem Karacan (64th) and Connor Pain (67th).
However, the match was far from over.
Roy O'Donovan pulled a goal back for home side in the 74th minute and replacement Ronny Vargas scored from a parry in the 80th to ensure a nervous finale. Then, in injury-time, the Jets were awarded a penalty after O'Donovan was brought down by Jonathan Aspro.
Kennedy, who spent 10 years at the Jets, dived to his left to save the spot kick. Newcastle defender Daniel Georgievski was on hand to put the rebound away only for the VAR to rule that he was among six players who had encroached.
O'Donovan stepped up again and Kennedy produced another miracle to earn the visitors a precious three points.
It was only the Mariners' second win of the season and ended a run of five straight derby losses.
"I don't think you can pack any more drama or excitement into the last 10 minutes," a delighted Stajcic said. "I have been here (Mariners) five minutes so to see the spirit and the effort, and the way the lads went about their work ... you could see they were really fighting and scrapping for every moment. Trying to really pick themselves up, the team up and the club up from last week. That is all down to the players and the way they have responded this week. I would love to have a magic wand and do that in two sessions all the time. It really has to go down to what the players produced on the pitch."
For the Jets, it was another lost opportunity. They could have moved to within a point of the top six with a win.
And for 47 minutes it appeared as though that would be the case. They dominated possession and territory. All that was missing was a goal.
"It was a strange game in the way it ended, but we let ourselves down in the first half," Jets coach Ernie Merrick said. "We had more than enough chances to score the first goal. We had numerous chances, hit the post, and if we had scored then, I think it would have been a different result. But credit to the Mariners, they fought really hard."
Stajcic was unceremoniously dumped by Football Federation Australia from the Matildas' top job on January 29 over cultural issues that the coach insists are yet to be fully explained.
The 45-year-old has been fighting to clear his name ever since and jumped at the chance to steer the Mariners for the final six games after Mike Mulvey was axed following a 8-2 humiliation to Wellington last round.
In his first senior men's appointment, Stajcic took over a side at rock bottom - last by eight points, with one win in 21 games, and on track for the worst defensive record in history.
Stajcic made two changes in personnel, bringing back experienced duo Connor Pain and Tom Hiariej, and changed to a more defensive formation with five at the back.
Constant rain, including a torrential downpour an hour before kick-off, made the pitch greasy.
Stajcic's priority was clear from the outset.
The Mariners sat deep and were content for the Jets to have the ball in the middle third.
The tactic was a sound one. But as the half progressed the Jets started to find space in between the lines.
Steven Ugarkovic was denied by a finger-tip save from Kennedy and Dimi Petratos had a shot deflect onto the post as the pressure started to mount.
By half-time the Jets had fired 10 shots. The Mariners nil.
Matt Millar finally crafted the visitor's first attempt on goal in the 48th minute which sailed high over the bar.
A minute later, they were in front.
Millar broke down the right and threaded a pass in behind Lachlan Jackson for Murray, who slid a shot past Glen Moss.
All of sudden, the Jets had to chase the game. Ernie Merrick introduced Vargas, who was returning from a hamstring injury, in the 58th minute.
But it was the visitors who struck.
Again Millar was instrumental. The right winger, who has signed with the Jets for next season, beat three defenders and cut the ball back for Karacan to side-foot home.
A minute later, it was 3-0.
Pain produced fancy footwork on the edge of the box and unleashed a left foot striker which angled into the corner.
O'Donovan gave the Jets a sniff when he nipped in to tap home a Jackson cross in the 74th minute.
Six minutes later, Kennedy parried a Nigel Boogaard shot straight into the legs of Vargas into the goal.