Central Coast Mariners have maintained their 100 per cent start to their National Youth League campaign courtesy of a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Perth Glory.
Both sides made light of sweltering conditions at Intiga Stadium to produce an entertaining contest, with Patrick Dixon's second-half strike eventually proving enough to secure a fifth consecutive win for the visitors and condemn the home side to their third straight home defeat.
And while neither team managed to find a goal in the opening 45 minutes, they each showed plenty of attacking intent and created several decent chances - two of which were only kept out by the woodwork.
The first of the clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities fell the way of Glory's Jesse Makarounas, but he blazed wastefully over the bar after neat approach work from Riley Woodcock and Harry O'Brien.
Moments later the hosts went close again through Moses Kalau.
The young midfielder bent a superb 22-metre free-kick around the wall with his left foot only to see it strike the post.
Mariners goalkeeper David Bradasevic then reacted quickly to prevent the loose ball from rebounding over the line.
The visitors, meanwhile, began to assert themselves later in the half, with midfielder Tomislav Cirjak prominent in most of their better moments.
His tenacity teed up a shooting opportunity for Daniel Bragg who fired over from the edge of the box, before Anthony Caceres came within centimetres of putting John McLafferty's side in front, striking the post with a thumping, 20-metre effort six minutes before the break.
The deadlock was finally broken three minutes into the second half however, and it was no surprise to see the impressive Cirjak involved.
Racing clear down the right, the Mariners No.10 played an inch-perfect low cross into the path of the onrushing Dixon, who made no mistake with a side-foot finish from close range.
Undaunted, the hosts threw men forward in search of an equaliser and it almost arrived on the hour mark when another fine through ball from Woodcock sent Ndumba Makeche clear, and although the powerful striker's shot crept under keeper Bradasevic, former Glory defender Brent Griffiths was on hand to clear off the line.
Perth substitute Storm Roux and the Mariners' Griffiths both went close with headed efforts at either end as the game moved into its final quarter and Glory continued to look threatening, particularly down the left, where Woodcock and Roux combined to great effect.
A frantic finale ensued as Gareth Naven's side piled on the pressure, but after Borbor Sam ended his mazy run by placing his right-footed effort wide, the men from Gosford managed to hang on to grind out the win that cemented their spot at the top of the NYL ladder.
Perth Glory 0
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Dixon 48)
Perth Glory: 1. Lewis Italiano (16. Devon Spence 62), 2. Matthew Davies, 3. Ryan Lowry, 4. Jacob Collard, 5. Riley Woodcock, 6. Brandon O'Neill, 7. Harry O'Brien (13. Borbor Sam 62), 8. Blamo Quaqua (12. Lawrence Shuruma 62), 9. Ndumba Makeche, 10. Jesse Makarounas, 11. Moses Kalau (14. Storm Roux 46')
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Luke Turnbull, 2. Nikola Stanojevic, 3. Michael Neill, 4. Kieren Paul, 6. Daniel Bragg (8. Dillon Vorster 57), 7. Adam Jenner, 10. Tomislav Cirjak (5. Joshua Forbes 57), 11. Patrick Dixon, 12. Louis Bozanic (14. Jordan Crighton 46), 13. Brent Griffiths, 17. Anthony Caceres.