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"Best moment of my career" - Suwon FC's Lachlan Jackson

Suwon FC and their towering Australian center-back Lachlan Jackson were just 12 minutes from dropping into K League 2 last Saturday. With relegation a mere formality, Suwon fashioned a comeback for the ages to bring the tie to extra time. From there, they blew Busan IPark away to preserve their status as a K League 1 club.



Seven days after securing the draw they needed to avoid automatic relegation (and, in the process, relegate their rivals to the south, Suwon Samsung Bluewings), Suwon FC were back in Castle Park hoping to overturn a 2-1 first-leg deficit to K League 2 outfit Busan IPark in the relegation/promotion decider.

They got off to the worst possible start, conceding in the 15th minute to fall 3-1 down on aggregate. Suwon FC toiled in the first half, dominating possession and territory but unable to find any clear openings. At half-time, manager Kim Do-kyun made a match-changing double substitution, and this grand old stadium witnessed a comeback so thrilling no one inside Suwon Stadium will forget any time soon.

Ricardo Lopes and Lee Kwang-hyeok made an immediate impact. Lopes hit the woodwork inside 60 seconds and had a goal disallowed. Lee's pace and trickery caused problems for the Busan defense, but the visitors held out, to much local frustration. However, on 78 minutes, Suwon were back in it, and once one goal went in, it felt inevitable this match was heading for extra time.

Lee Yong-jae sparked wild scenes with Suwon's second goal five minutes later to make it 3-3 on aggregate. There were no further goals in regulation time but momentum, and a superior bench, had completely swung the tie in Suwon's favor. The first period of extra time was devastating. Lee Kwang-hyeok scored to make it 3-1 and then Lopes laid on another for Jeong Jae-yong. It was party time in Castle Park.

Busan threatened a revival with their second of the match but Lopes ensured his team would stay in K League 1 with a fifth goal just three minutes later. He deserved it, and so did Suwon. Following the game and the lengthy post-match celebrations, Lachlan Jackson spoke to me under the main stand to explain just how much this meant.

How on Earth do you explain what you just saw?

Ah, mate, it was unbelievable. From losing the first leg and then going 1-0 down, and I think 20 minutes, 15 minutes left, and we somehow started to claw our way back in the second half. Then one goal, two goals. We made extra time and from there, well, best feeling ever, best feeling ever!

Was there a part of you on the field just before the first goal that you thought this wasn't going to be our day?

Well coming into the second half, I think we dominated straight off the bat. We just had to stay positive but yeah there was obviously a little part thinking we had chances that didn't go in and thinking 'oh no' not this, we got that one and then belief starts to happen and then....yeah best moment of my career for sure.

As those goals were going in in extra time, were you pinching yourself the way the game turned out?

That clock was going so slow! I kept looking up at it but it didn't move. 

What about Ricardo Lopes' influence off the bench? The changes your manager made at half time made a huge difference in the end?

Yes, exactly. It seemed like in the second half when we gave the ball up front, it didn't come back. They were immense up top. Lopes and our number 22 Lee Kwang-hyeok. They really did suffer for us. I'm proud of them. They put in a big effort.

Can you explain further to us what it means to you having spent a couple of years here in Suwon?

No player wants to get relegated in their career. To come so close to that and then avoid, it feels surreal. To escape that, we've got next year to build in K League 1 again and I guess restart the season. Plenty to look forward to when we leave and go on holidays. 

It has been such a long season, almost 10 months to the day since the season started. What are your immediate plans after securing top-flight status?

Yeah, definitely, a long season. I was just speaking about that before. We came out last year at the start of December for pre-season, so it has been a full year. Keen to have a break and go back to Australia and enjoy the summer down there. 

Congratulations on the result and hopefully we'll see you in K League 1 next season.

Thanks!

FNR

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