Tegan Riding fired Eastern Suburbs Women to a 3-1 win over fellow finals contenders The Gap Women at Walton Bridge Reserve on Sunday evening.
Despite letting slip of an early lead, Easts recovered to improve their cushion in second and keep pace with leaders UQFC Women.
The match was just 11 minutes old when Riding continued her sparkling start to the season with a long-range effort to open the scoring.
Parity was restored soon after though as Bethany Ashton played in midfielder Jess Dillon to score and level matters at 1-1 after only 20 minutes.
The home side looked likely to turn the momentum from their equaliser into a half time advantage but neither side was able to break the deadlock.
Easts coach Garrath McPherson clearly used his team talk to good effect as the visitors restored their lead five minutes after the restart when Natalie Mueller punished Gators for failing to clear their lines.
With 15 minutes remaining, Riding capitalised on another defensive error to net her 10th goal of the campaign and effectively seal the 3-1 victory.
Abigayle Gabriel-Metta was called on to keep out a Summer O’Brien free kick and preserve Easts’ advantage, before Gators’ woes were compounded in the 88th minute when Ruth Blackburn was dismissed for a second yellow.
Speaking after the match, Gators coach Rob Askew was frustrated by his team’s inability to break down the visitors.
“I can’t recall us having a one-on-one with the ‘keeper, most of our efforts were from outside of the box. It was very disappointing because we do so much work at training on getting the ball and the player in behind the last line,” Askew said.
Though admitting “a bit of rocket” was necessary at half time, Easts coach Garrath McPherson praised his unbeaten outfit’s grit to survive the first 45 minutes and push on to victory.
“It was probably the fact that we managed to scrape in at half time at 1-1 that gave us a chance to get a result,” McPherson said.
The Gap FC Women 1 (Jess DILLON 20’)
Eastern Suburbs FC Women 3 (Tegan RIDING 11’, 75’ Natalie MUELLER 50’)