A dogged Perth Glory have held Melbourne City to a 2-2 draw to give themselves a semblance of momentum ahead of their long-anticipated return to West Australia.
With a draw against the reigning champions secured and a long-awaited homecoming imminent, Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia can't wipe the smile off his face.
Playing their final fixture before finally being allowed to head back across the Nullarbor and host games in West Australia, Glory clawed back from a two-goal deficit to secure a 2-2 draw with City at AAMI Park on Wednesday evening.
After goals from Florin Berenguer and Mat Leckie put the hosts ahead, efforts from Bruno Fornaroli and Callum Timmins returned Glory to level pegging before they staged a determined rearguard action in the face of fierce City pressure to secure the result.
A point in hand, they can now return home to prepare to face Adelaide United on Sunday and end a 106-day run of games outside WA in which the squad has been ravaged by both injury and COVID.
"I don't know how much more I can smile," Garcia said.
"I think it's a fantastic feeling knowing that we're going to be home and back to a bit of normality. Just to be reunited with family is going to be very special.
"They will get to spend time with the family and that's the biggest one.
"They get back to their normal routines, back to their normal houses.
"So, just a bit of that normality will be fantastic.
"Then it's back to business. We've got a heavy schedule now and the boys will be fully focused."
Though back at the top of the ALM on goal difference, Wednesday's draw saw City's three-game winning streak snapped and second-place Western United now have two games in hand.
Though easily the strongest attack in the league, coach Patrick Kisnorbo's unit has now conceded 23 goals in 16 games; only Newcastle Jets have a worse record on a goals-per-game basis.
They will also be sweating on the fitness of Leckie ahead of their game against Wellington on Sunday after the attacker was withdrawn with what he told Paramount+ was an adductor ailment in the 41st minute.
"That's football sometimes," Kisnorbo said of the result.
"I thought we were great and in those (Glory) goals, we had a couple of lapses in concentration and got punished.
"It's just one of those things that we need to improve on but we'll take positives out of the game and move on."