Palm Beach SC Women leapfrogged Eastern Suburbs Women into top spot with a potentially season-defining 2-1 win at Heath Park on Saturday night.
Sharks scored in either half and survived a late charge to inflict a second defeat of the season on Easts and secure a vital away victory.
There were few chances early between two even teams and it wasn’t until the 27th minute that either goalkeeper was tested, as Deeanna Thompson drew a good save from Tash Mavrick.
The visitors gained the ascendency following that effort as Laura Sevil, Thompson and Sachiko Tatsuoka all tried their luck, before Thompson hit the crossbar in the 34th minute.
Sharks’ attacking efforts were rewarded seven minutes from the break as Thompson netted the opener with a smart shot on the turn.
Thompson could have added another shortly after when she sprinted through on goal, but Mavrick was again up to the task.
Sharks’ dominance continued after the restart, restricting the competition’s second highest scorers to only speculative efforts.
Gary French’s side grabbed a crucial second in the 75th minute when Harkana Dixon’s error allowed Lauren Brown to capitalise and make it 2-0.
Easts didn’t let their spirits drop and were back in the contest just three minutes later as Chantelle Ryder turned home substitute Sarah Ryan’s pass.
Natalie Mueller then shot over the crossbar as the home side pushed for an equaliser, while Tegan Riding was unable to make the most of a set piece.
Easts had one final chance to secure a point with two minutes remaining but Sharks ‘keeper Bianca Warrener made the match-winning save to keep out Ryder and secure all three points.
Speaking after the match, Easts player Michaela Hatzirodos felt the hosts left their run marginally too late.
“I thought it was a really tough, physical battle. If we had that extra five minutes, with the intensity I thought we could have got another goal,” Hatzirodos said.
Sharks coach Gary French said despite moving into top spot, his team wouldn’t get ahead of themselves.
“It was a massive, big game for us today. I think for long periods we cancelled each other out but we’re not getting carried away because obviously it’s only half way through the season,” he said.
Eastern Suburbs FC Women 1 (Chantelle RYDER 78’)
Palm Beach SC Women 2 (Deeanna THOMPSON 38’ Lauren BROWN 75’)