Floreat Athena edged local rivals Perth SC 4-3 on penalties on Saturday night after a 1-1 draw in a thrilling preliminary round six FFA Cup tie.
Richard Howles looked to have put the visitors one game from the national Round of 32 with a well-taken goal 13 minutes from time.
But Calvin Whitney struck four minutes into stoppage time after Perth had been reduced to 10 men.
The tie was ultimately decided by a penalty shootout. Hamza Hina and Jon Stynes scored for Athena as Perth failed with their final two kicks.
Stynes, who scored the winner in the 2016 State Cup, said he relishes stepping up when it counts.
“You have to have confidence in your own game and I like the big moments,” he said.
“I missed a chance in extra-time, so I wanted to take the fifth penalty in the shootout to win it for the boys.
“The situation appeared. I was able to execute and score the winner; it’s a great feeling.
“It was a great effort for us to come back from a goal down. There’s a different feel about the boys in the cup at the moment and we pulled through.”
Floreat coach Howard Tweats was relieved with the win and wants his team to use their FFA Cup run to boost their league form after a challenging first half of the season.
“We showed great spirit to go right to the death and get the reward to push it to extra time,” he said.
“It was a close game. We stuck in there and we were disappointed we didn’t kill it in extra-time, but (keeper) Jason (Saldaris) stepped up for us.
“If you were picking anyone to step up and take a final penalty it would be Stynesy, he said he owed us for the one he missed in extra-time.
“We’ve now come through the cup against Bayswater and Perth and hopefully this confidence helps us in the league.
“We have a senior base of players who played Melbourne City two years ago, so we draw on that experience to haul the young lads along.”
Stynes drove wide of the upright and Saldaris smothered at the feet of Howles in a drab first half of few chances.
Both goalkeepers were busier in the second half as Saldaris provided two terrific saves to deny Kristian Santich, while Malek Kuc thwarted Phil Arnold and Keylun Pollard at the other end.
Perth opened the scoring on 77 minutes when Howles latched on to a long ball, rounded Saldaris and rolled the ball into an empty net from an acute angle.
But the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Niccolo Sabbatini received a second yellow card, and they couldn’t hold on as Whitney scored with almost the last kick of the game.
Both teams had chances to win it in extra-time with Arnold’s header rattling the bar before Saldaris clawed Howles’ goalbound header away.
And so it went to penalties. Saldaris saved from Catarcione in the shootout, which gave Stynes the opportunity to send Floreat through to the next round.
Floreat Athena 1 (Whitney 90+4min)
Perth SC 1 (Howles 77)
(Floreat win 4-3 on penalties)
Saturday, May 19
E&D Litis Stadium
Referee: Steven Gregory
Floreat Athena: GK: Jason SALDARIS, 2. Marco SANTALUCIA, 4. Andrew SCALDAFERRO, 6. Jesse FULLER, 8. Jon STYNES, 10. Calvin WHITNEY 11. Dennis GALAN, 15. Chris SALDARIS, 17. Dean EVANS, 18. Phil ARNOLD (13. Hamza HINA 109), 21. Keylun POLLARD
Substitutes not used: RGK: Jordan BARBAS, 5. Jamie STREET, 12. Declan HUDSON, 20. James OWEN
Yellow cards: Pollard 43
Red cards: Nil
Perth SC: GK: Malek KUC, 2. Alex SILLA, 5. Niccolo SABBATINI, 6. Harley ORR, 10. Nicholas AMBROGIO (9. Gustavo CATARCIONE 91), 11. Matt MILENKOVIC, 12. Jordan DE LEO, 14. Kristian SANTICH, 16. Kieran COLWELL, 18. Richard HOWLES, 19. Adam ZIMARINO (20. Paul ZIMARINO 87)
Substitutes not used: RGK: Daniel PASSARELLI, 7. Aleks JOVIC, 21. George FESTA
Yellow cards: Sabbatini 80, Howles 98, De Leo 101, Catarcione 116
Red Cards: Sabbatini 85