Central Coast Mariners entered this season on the back of three consecutive wooden spoons, but they are now a genuine title threat following a stunning run of form.
Central Coast Mariners coach Alen Stajcic is confident his team can match it with the best at the pointy end of the A-League season after watching them post another gutsy win.
The Mariners withstood a fierce Perth Glory fightback to post a 2-1 win in Perth on Tuesday night.
The win lifted Central Coast four points clear on top of the table ahead of next Monday's top-of-the-table clash against Macarthur.
The Mariners beat Macarthur 2-0 earlier this season, and they have also posted wins against Sydney FC and Melbourne City among their seven victories.
It's been a remarkable change in fortunes for the Mariners, who had collected the previous three wooden spoons in the worst period of the club's history.
Stajcic feels he has now seen enough to know his players can stand up against the best teams when it counts.
"This is really a show of whether we've got the credentials to match people at the pointy end of the season," Stajcic said.
"I think we showed enough that we can be competitive when it comes crunch time. To beat a Perth team that has scored at will in the last few games shows we can compete with the top teams."
Glory entered the match having scored 18 goals in their opening six matches - an A-League record for that stage of the season.
Perth launched wave after wave of attack in the second half and could have easily ended the match with two or three goals to their name, but the Mariners were able to withstand the barrage.
Glory coach Richard Garcia conceded his team's sloppy defence in the first half cost them dearly.
Mariners veteran Matt Simon scored the opener in the sixth minute when he was able to chest down a teammate's looping header before poking the ball into the net.
The lead was doubled in the 40th minute when a curling Daniel De Silva free kick was met by Costa Rican international Marcos Urena, who somehow got free at the far post to easily head home.
"We've got to tidy up the sloppiness of set pieces and a few things defensively, and be more focused on what we do without the ball," Garcia said.
"We've got to work on it, and we've got to start taking ownership of that."