Western United recorded a crucial win in Launceston on Saturday night, defeating the league leaders Central Coast Mariners 1-0 at UTAS Stadium.
Captain Alessandro Diamanti returned to the starting eleven.
Usual central defender Tomi Uskok pushed forward, partnering with Víctor Sánchez in the middle of the park.
Josh Risdon made the match day squad for the first time this season after recovering from a long-term injury, while Dalibor Markovic was named for the first time since crossing from Melbourne Victory last week.
United took an early lead in Launceston through wing-back Connor Pain, who scored his first goal of the season.
Pain played a one-two with Besart Berisha before strolling through a number of Mariners defenders and striking the ball into the bottom corner.
United’s next best chance came via Iker Guarrotxena, who fired just wide after receiving a low cross from Dylan Pierias.
The Spaniard had another chance later in the half, latching onto the end of a Diamanti cross, but his shot was saved by Mark Birighitti.
There was drama in the second half which left plenty of fans confused at UTAS Stadium.
Ruon Tongyik was shown his second yellow card for fouling Pain but remained on the pitch after an offside was called in United’s build-up play.
The Mariners had the better of the chances in the second half.
Alou Kuol went closest for the Mariners but was denied by a superb Ryan Scott save.
A professional United outfit held on for the win against the league leading Mariners.
What Mark Rudan said
“I’m really happy for the players, it was a big challenge obviously to play the league leaders, and we knocked them off.
“I thought we were outstanding in that first half, probably the best half of football that we’ve played all year.
“I thought tactically we got it spot on, they didn’t have any answers both with and without the ball.
“A little bit somewhat different, and the reason it was somewhat different in the second half was because some of the players started to tire.
“Diamanti hadn’t started a game for a while, Brendan Hamill hadn’t started a game in a while, Tomi Uskok played in the middle of the park.
“But take nothing away from that performance, I thought we were fantastic.”
Western United will remain in Tasmania for its clash with Wellington Phoenix on Thursday, 22 April at UTAS Stadium. Kick-off is 7:05pm.
Click here to get your tickets to the match.