MATT Bale found the back of the net, but it was the performance of goalkeeper Cameron Higham that proved pivotal in Port United's 1-0 victory over Tuncurry-Forster Tigers on Saturday.
Bale's second-half strike was enough to separate the two sides and hand United another three points although a handful of saves from his goalkeeper kept United's unbeaten record in tact.
They moved eight points clear at the top of the table following Port Saints' 3-0 loss to Wallis Lake.
United coach Nathan Wade was full of praise for his goalkeeper who was tested at various stages throughout the match played in drizzling rain.
"I thought on a really heavy pitch with rain and muddy conditions it was one of the highest quality games we've played all year," Wade said.
"They tested Cameron quite a bit with some free kicks and seemed to target him and put a lot of pressure on him, but he handled everything they threw at him.
"He was one of the main reasons we took the three points. We had our chances at the other end, but he took away any of the chances they had."
It was United's seventh clean sheet of the campaign despite again fielding another makeshift central defensive pairing.
"We had to put Kaleb (Langbein) back to stopper from the midfield because we had Jake Pugh out so another player that normally doesn't play there stepped up and did the job for us," Wade said.
Unsurprisingly, United's confidence is growing every week.
"(It was pleasing) knowing we're capable of keeping the other side scoreless, hang in until near the end and be able to score one ourselves in a tight game," Wade said.
"That was probably one of our hardest games we've played all year so credit to them and their coaches; I don't know why Forster are second last."
While Wade's side now appear to have one hand on the minor premiership they still refused to become complacent.
"We've still got a lot of hard games to go; we've got second, third and fourth to play and Taree could be fifth by the time we play them," he said.
"So we've got four of the top five to play on our run home. It's not like we've got easy games coming up.
"We know we're going to be in the finals, but what position we're in is still to be decided."
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