Melbourne Victory did just enough to scrape past the always-unlucky Newcastle Jets 2-1 at AAMI Park.
Terry Antonis gave Victory the lead, Kenny Athiu justifying his selection over Kosta Barbarouses with a neat flick on to the midfielder, who curled an effort around Lewis Italiano.
The Jets eventually pulled level as the second half showed a bit more spark, Kaine Sheppard continuing his solid form for Newcastle by netting the equaliser.
But it was a belter that ended up dividing the sides - showcasing the difference in class and budgets simultaneously - as James Troisi hit a phenomenal strike into the top corner from an acute angle.
The win keeps Melbourne Victory in second, three points above Melbourne City and Sydney FC. While the top four could go either way, another narrow loss leaves the Jets - the only side that really looks capable - seven points adrift of the top six.
Tonight in the #aleague, no less than 6 players (Millar, Murray, Burgess, Athiu, Sheppard, Kamsoba) & one coach (Rudan) stepping up from the NPL featured. Apart from Millar, all are front 3rd players, one scored, one was inches offside. More signs of the progress to a 2nd tier— Tony Tannous (@TonyTannousTRBA) 12 January 2019