The Macleay Valley Rangers were threatened on numerous occasions but showed resilience to secure a 2-0 road victory over the Forster-Tuncurry Tigers on Saturday.
The Rangers started the match on the back foot and required a tremendous save from goalkeeper John Clancy and an off-the-line clearance from Brent Ryan to keep the Tigers scoreless in the opening 20-minutes.
Macleay Valley began to ease their way into the game and found the back of the net with their first real attacking raid.
Tristan Smith's shot was deflected but remained on target as it snuck passed the goal keeper at the near post.
The Rangers' momentum continued and they doubled their advantage after a Chad Applegate run down the right flank resulted in a cross to the back post and Smith tapped the ball in for his second.
Macleay Valley had more opportunities to seal the game in the second half, including Alex Le Mesurier's shot cleared off the line, before the Tigers regained the momentum for the final 15-minutes as they pushed to earn a result.
The Tigers came as close as hitting the cross bar but ultimately the Rangers' solid defensive line and Clancy's efforts between the posts were rewarded with a clean sheet.
"We could have sealed the victory early in the second half but we missed a few chances," Rangers coach Chris Walker said.
"But I was impressed with our defence. We showed a lot of quality at the back."
Walker was pleased with the result and claims his side deserved the win.
"They threatened us a few times but I think it goes to show how good our defence is to keep a clean sheet on the road," Walker said.
"Brad Mainey, our centre back, picked up the man of the match honours as he stopped a lot of their attacks.
"It was a tough game but I think we deserved the result."
The victory ensures Rangers remain in the top three, as they sit in third spot, one competition point behind Port Saints but they trail Port United by six competition points.
The loss levels the Tigers stranded in second last place as they have seven losses from nine games this year.
Rangers face rivals Wallis Lake, who are in fourth position and will enter the game on the back of a 6-0 victory over Wauchope, on the road this Saturday.
Macleay Valley are in the midst of a tough road stand, as they play their next two games on the road and have also travelled for their past two matches.
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