Western United put in an impressive display to down Newcastle Jets 3-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men on Saturday evening.
Noah Botic scored his first ever professional brace within the opening half hour with two predatory finishes inside the penalty area.
Newcastle pulled one back immediately after Botic’s second but United took control in the second half, adding a third with Tongo Doumbia’s first goal for the Club.
With eight games remaining in the season, the win lifts United to 10th place with just a five point gap to the top six.
Western United welcomed its two star full-backs into the matchday squad, with Josh Risdon coming straight into the starting XI and Ben Garuccio being named on the bench.
Aleksandar Prijovic missed out with a minor knee injury so Botic returned for his fifth start of the season up front.
Newcastle put United under pressure immediately when Jaushua Sotirio was played in down the left-hand side, but his shot rolled across the face of goal and Trent Buhagiar couldn’t convert from a tight angle.
After surviving that scare, United hit back in the best possible fashion with a goal mere minutes later. Risdon and James Troisi exchanged passes on a throw-in before the former swung in a beautiful cross towards the back post which Botic met just before Jack Duncan to flick the ball into the back of the net.
That opener sparked Newcastle into life and the home side quickly increased the tempo, firing a succession of shots on goal but a mix of last-ditch defending and Jamie Young heroics ensured United maintained the lead.
And that proved crucial as United rode Newcastle’s pressure and found a second goal with a swift breakaway down the left wing.
Connor Pain did brilliantly to evade a challenge from Carl Jenkinson and slid the ball across goal on a plate for Noah Botic who had the simple task of tapping home his second of the game on the half hour mark.
But Newcastle hit back again after conceding and won a penalty almost immediately after the kick-off as Jacob Tratt was penalised for a handball in the penalty area.
Beka Mikeltadze duly converted from 12 yards and set up a big second period as United went in search of an important victory.
John Aloisi sent his team out to seize control of the contest after the restart, and the Green and Black did just that with increased energy and urgency on both sides of the ball.
United’s high press put Newcastle keeper Jack Duncan under significant pressure on a number of occasions and helped the visitors gain control quickly in the second half.
Troisi had a big opportunity from one such turnover but couldn’t keep his lofted effort under the crossbar as the Green and Black continued to knock on the door.
The game began to open up as both team’s fatigued and Michael Ruhs sprung off the bench to use his pace in behind to continue to stretch Newcastle’s defence.
Within moments of coming on, the new No.9 had a golden chance to open his Western United account but Duncan was equal to the effort with a fine stop.
But United wasn’t to be denied soon after and while Ruhs missed the chance to score his first United goal, Tongo Doumbia seized his opportunity with a towering header from Neil Kilkenny’s cross.
Aloisi’s men could’ve had even more in the final 20 minutes as Ruhs, Pain and substitute Dylan Pierias sustained the pressure, but the win was all but secured to arrest United’s three-match skid and lift the side off the bottom of the table.