ADELAIDE United were moving closer to being labelled this season's dunces before Baba Diawara magic revived the reigning A-League champions when they looked like creating unwanted history.
After Western Sydney ended any dreams of Adelaide retaining its championship crown by climbing 10 points clear of United in the top six with nine points up for grabs before the playoffs, the Reds seemingly had resigned themselves to claiming the wooden spoon with a lethargic first-half performance.
But in a great second 45 minutes, Adelaide for the first time since round 16 climbed off the bottom of the ladder, trading places with Central Coast in a 3-2 win in Gosford on Saturday.
Kwabena Appiah's first-half Mariners goal sunk morale and Adelaide was well on its way to being just the second club behind Newcastle Jets to finish bottom a season after winning the crown.
Although that scenario is still on the cards with Adelaide now just a point clear of the Mariners, Baba gave Adelaide the kiss of A-League life in the 56th minute with a sniper's finish and a platform for a remarkable comeback.
It all started with Sergio Cirio's cross inside the box which saw Liam Rose get in a tangle when he allowed the ball to bounce before Baba chipped the ball into the back of the net with super reflexes.
It was Baba's third goal in as many matches and Adelaide then looked for a second goal, which arrived in the 61st minute.
Dylan McGowan made it 2-1 from a perfect Jesse Makarounas corner with a super header from seven metres to bag his second goal of the season.
Baba then went equal top of Adelaide's leading goal scorer's chart when he met Ben Garuccio's corner to nod the ball home in the 66th minute.
But when Roy O'Donovan scored from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after Kim Jae-sung accidentally handled the ball in the box when he took his eye off the leather and botched a clearance, Adelaide managed to survive a late Mariners flurry.
Reds stopper McGowan said Baba was a super January signing.
"Baba is fantastic he's getting used to us boys and the way we play," he said.
"In the first half we were very poor Central Coast is a very good side and they can hurt you on the counter attack.
"(But) it's always good to get a goal but more importantly I'd like to get a clean sheet."
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