THE comeback victory. The atmosphere. The support from family and friends. All in front of a home crowd.
Cushla Rue was living the dream with her Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday night, as her side secured a 2-1 victory over the Newcastle Jets at Carrington Park in their A-League Women at Bathurst's Carrington Park.
The homecoming for Rue came with a mixture of anticipation and nerves.
Not only did the Bathurst player crave nothing more than a win in her home city but the Wanderers were also aiming to avoid a third straight defeat and keep themselves inside the competition's top six.
Things didn't follow that script at first when Newcastle's Libby Copus-Brown opened the scoring in the 14th minute with her firm strike from outside the box.
However, Wanderers' Sophie Harding got things level before half-time and then Vicky Bruce scored the winning goal in the 79th minute when she put away a blocked free kick attempt.
Rue let the relief wash over her at the full-time whistle, enjoying every second of the post-game festivities as she caught up with friends, family and fans on the sideline.
"It's surreal at the moment. I don't think I'll believe it until I wake up tomorrow morning," Rue said.
"It's amazing to see how many kids have come down for it. It's great seeing my family and friends cheering me on the whole game."
Passionate supporters spur Rue on
Rue's first touch of the ball inside the first few second of the match was met with thunderous cheers across the Carrington Park grandstand, and the passion never relented from her home supporters.
Any time Rue found herself with space to run or any time she appeared to be on the end of a promising cross the crowd were almost out of their seats.
Rue was quite active across the pitch, switching wings on several occasions throughout the 90 minutes.
Her best opportunity in the first half came on a promising through ball from Harding into the top of the Jets penalty area but Rue was beaten to the ball by her defender.
Rue almost got on the end of a dangerous cross to the back post just three minutes into the second half and had an almost identical opportunity come her way just after the hour mark.
While she may not have come away with what would have been a goal to savour on her home ground it was still a second half performance for Rue and her team to be proud of.
"It was a tough game, and a very transitional one," Rue said.
"I think we struggled to keep the ball for a lot of the first half. In the second half we started to build up some momentum and we were able to move the ball around a bit more and create some opportunities.
"I'm really proud of all the girls. Everyone put in a really good shift."
A football feast at Carrington Park
The prospect of one day playing football at Carrington Park was never even in the back of Rue's mind growing up.
As the home of the Bathurst Panthers it's a venue which often calls rugby league home, although the stadium has played host to football fixtures in the past.
Rue had watched her share of sport at the ground while growing up but never envisioned it as a scene for a win in her favourite sport - especially one that would unite her home city.
"I was already nervous at the start of the week for this one," she said.
"I wouldn't have thought I'd ever be playing here. Carrington is somewhere I came to watch footy all the time, so to play an A-League game here feels amazing.
"The atmosphere was so good. It gives you that extra little bit of drive when you're out on the pitch and that extra motivation.
"We couldn't have done it without the fans tonight, especially in those last few minutes when you have to dig deep and it gets hard."
Getting back into the groove
The loser of Friday night's game was almost assured to drop out of the all-important top six.
It added extra pressure on a Wanderers side who had looked to be turning a leaf in their season before losing back-to-back matches against the Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United.
"That win means a lot. We went on a winning streak for a bit there but we just went into a lull for the last two games," Rue said.
"To come out with a win is great, and hopefully we can put together a couple more on the back of that one."
The win has moved Rue and her Wanderers into fourth spot on the ladder while the Jets fell to eighth.
A crowd of almost 4,000 spectators turned out for the game, with number bolstered by the Proctor Park Challenge statewide girls soccer carnival taking place on the same weekend in Bathurst.