Mandurah City celebrated a 1-0 victory over the Stirling Lions at Securitas Protect Stadium on Saturday.
Sean Troup’s goal in the 19th minute proved to be the difference in a physical contest, as Mandurah recorded their third win of the season and closed the gap on Perth Glory to one point.
Mandurah coach Doug Hesketh thought his experienced players were crucial in the win.
“We are getting some senior players back now and even though we have a lot of injuries, it’s a developing pattern for the team as we get them back,” he said.
“I thought we totally dominated the first half and deserved the lead.”
Both teams had players sent off as Thomas Straker saw red for a two-footed lunge before the visitors had Shane Cassidy and Darren O’Riordan dismissed in the space of two minutes.
Stirling had plenty of chances to find an equaliser, only to be denied by some excellent goalkeeping from Cyril Sharrock, and coach Rob Milevski rued those missed opportunities.
“In the first ten minutes Mandurah put some good pressure on us and it was a defensive error at the back which led to the goal,” he said.
“I thought we had four great chances in the first half and we didn’t convert, including three one-on-ones.”
Mandurah could have scored more goals, but a combination of excellent goalkeeping from Stirling’s John Perkins and the upright kept them within touching distance.
Joseph O’Brien came close to doubling the lead when he dribbled past several defenders, before Perkins turned away his low drive.
Both sides started the second half well and had excellent chances, but the game quickly became bogged down in the midfield.
Stirling increased their pressure late on, but a determined home side defended staunchly to record a crucial win, which Hesketh and his club dedicated to Mandurah City mascot and junior player Chris Chandler.