Nikolai Topor-Stanley has praised his Newcastle Jets teammates for grinding out a 2-1 win over Adelaide United at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
The game was a slow burn in hot conditions that burst into life just before the hour.
The outcome was decided by a controversial penalty which saw Adelaide assistant coach, Filip Tapalovic, red-carded for his sideline remonstrations.
Andrew Nabbout (55') opened the scoring and Dimi Petratos slotted home the winning spot kick (89') after George Blackwood (67') equalised.
Topor-Stanley said there was "plenty" of belief within the team after they managed to dig out a win despite a less than stellar performance.
"We hung in there," the veteran centre back said.
"It was pretty much a stalemate all game. It was very tight and neither team really made great chances but we're happy to get the points in the end."
He added: "We didn't play that well. We've played far better games and created far more in terms of attacking play.
"But in the end we kept believing and in the end I thought we were a bit unlucky to give away a goal."
I don't understand where his arm is meant to go. Disappointed pic.twitter.com/VEBMpX2011— Jordan Elsey (@JordanElsey1) December 16, 2017
But the penalty was the big talking point.
Ryan Strain was adjudged to have handballed in the area - a decision that lit up social media and the Reds' technical area. Replays suggested it was at best inconclusive.
"I didn't see it to be honest," Topor-Stanley said.
"I think I saw the replay - it hit a hand - I've seen them given and I've seen them not given. What do you do?"
Just 11 rounds in and Ernie Merrick's men have already scored more points than last season's tally when they finished with the wooden spoon.
The win cements Newcastle's spot in second and puts them within five points of league leaders Sydney FC, while the Reds remain in fourth place.