Perth Glory have opened up a seven-point lead on top of the table after defeating second placed Melbourne Victory 2-1 at AAMI Park on Sunday evening.
In arguably a “grand-final preview” both sides knew a win would be key in sealing a spot inside the top two after Sydney FC dropped points earlier in the week.
Melbourne Victory welcomed back Keisuke Honda who returned to the bench but were without Ola Toivonen who missed through an injury he sustained mid-week, while Andy Keogh was dropped to the bench for the Glory in place of Joel Chianese.
After a cagey first-half, neither side could open the scoring with the Victory arguably creating the best chance when Elvis Kamsoba was able to create a half-chance which was saved by Liam Reddy.
The away side began to open up the Victory in the second-half as Chris Ikonomidis tested Lawrence Thomas as the Glory edged closer towards an opener.
However, they were rewarded when Corey Brown was penalised after a handball inside the area resulted in a penalty for the Glory which was dispatched by Neil Kilkenny to open the scoring.
Moments later, Honda was introduced to a rousing ovation as the Victory looked to get back in the game but were caught off guard when Ikonomidis broke in behind Thomas Deng to set up Diego Castro for the Glory’s second.
Victory were able to fight back into proceedings when Kosta Barbarouses latched onto a Leigh Broxham through-ball to half the margin with just over ten minutes to play.
Kevin Muscat’s men found themselves dominating much of the play from there on in as Honda had a chance late on to equalise but his shot went flying over the crossbar.
Perth were able to hold on for the win and as a result, open up a three game gap on the Victory and all but seal top spot with nine games to go while Melbourne are still only a point clear of third placed Sydney.
The Glory will host Brisbane at HBF Park on Saturday night while Melbourne will travel across the ditch to take on Wellington on Friday night.