Western United coach Mark Rudan believes his team has the ability to defeat any team in the A-League after their 1-0 victory over Central Coast.
His team is still outside the top six but Western United coach Mark Rudan is looking upwards after a 1-0 victory over high-flying Central Coast on Saturday.
A fifth-minute goal to wing-back Connor Pain was the difference for United as they defeated the Mariners at Launceston's UTAS Stadium in the first A-League match in Tasmania for eight years.
Pain gave United the perfect start when he made the most of some static Mariners' defending to work a one-two with striker Besart Berisha on the edge of the area before poking the ball home.
Rudan's men really should have put the game to bed in the first half with Spanish midfielder Iker Guarrotxena guilty of wasting some good opportunities, particularly one where he was played through on goal by a delicious pass from Alessandro Diamanti but shot straight at Mariners 'keeper Mark Birighitti.
Despite that lack of a finishing touch, Rudan hailed his team's first-half effort as their best 45 minutes this season and was hopeful it would set the template for his eighth-placed team to go on a charge towards the finals.
"We're looking stronger at the right time," he said.
"We've beaten Melbourne City. We've beaten Central Coast Mariners. We've beaten the teams above us. We know we can do that.
"We can beat anybody. We've just got to find that consistency and make sure that we do it week-in, week-out."
Rudan was also thrilled Josh Risdon came off the bench to make his first start of the season after a long stint out with stress fracture to his tibia while Diamanti made just his second start in the past five matches.
The Mariners huffed and puffed in the second half but created few clear-cut opportunities to get back into the contest.
The visitors also received a bizarre reprieve midway through the second half from the VAR after defender Ruon Tongyik was sent off for a second yellow-card offence on Pain.
As Tongyik trudged from the field however he was told to return after it was ruled Berisha was offside in the build-up moments before the challenge which led to his dismissal.
Mariners coach Alen Stajcic said his team had simply been outplayed in the first half and hadn't done enough in the end to get themselves back into the match.
"I thought the first half we were pretty poor to be honest," Stajcic said.
"We lacked the right amount of intensity and I thought the goal was one of the poorest goals we've conceded all year.
"Just not focused in that moment and we gave them scoreboard momentum.
"Second half I thought was a lot better ... just lacked that little bit of quality."