'Professionalism in spades': Three things we learned - Wellington vs City
What a result. In our biggest win since last season's spectacular double-drubbing in the Derby, we have added to our already considerable advantage in our goal difference, which may be the deciding factor come the start of May.
If it weren't for Jason Cummings missing a 90th-minute penalty against Western United earlier in the day, we would now be running the title race on our terms. Instead, United still has two games in hand and are five points behind... but remember, games in hand do not mean wins.
We've gained those points, and how! A massive win against a top-four side just depicts the passionate intent that our boys have leading into the pointy end of this season.
Without further ado, here are the three things we learned after today's pummeling of the Wellington Phoenix:
Professionalism in spades
This afternoon's win unfolded after an accumulation of horrid luck, silly mistakes and unfortunate misses this season. Finally, it all came together.
From the wonderful game management of our midfield trio, to the patience we witnessed when playing out of our defence, our City boys nailed our tactical approach to a tee, reaping the rewards in the meantime.
Normally, a result such as this only comes from attack, attack, and even more attack! Instead, our patient handling of the game as it played out ensured that we frustrated the Wellington Phoenix - who had the majority of possession, mind you - into making mistakes or switching off defensively.
It is surely exciting to see that we really can control these matches and win comprehensively without having to rely on our superb striker in Jamie Maclaren, who did not find the back of the net this afternoon.
Marco Tilio's stocks rocket
The wonderkid himself. Back from Socceroos duty, Tilio made quick work of getting on the scoresheet only four minutes after being subbed on for Andrew Nabbout. Not only that, he notched his first A-League Men double, finishing with composure when he chipped Oliver Sail from a tight angle.
Let's not be silly, we all know what comes next when a young player consistently outperforms his opposite number... Europe must be knocking.
I have not been so excited for the future of a player since Daniel Arzani. One can only hope that when the time comes, Tilio takes the opportunity with both feet, and earns many more Socceroos caps to come.
Certainly knowing we may not have too much time left, let us all enjoy the wonderfully deft touches and solo runs while we have them. Who knows, it may be the decider in another title success.
Second-consecutive clean sheet
In the words of Brenton Speed, oh my goodness. Our defence looked absolutely rock solid tonight, with only a couple of scrappy moments which were surely dealt with.
With all of our defensive woes, this is an outstanding accomplishment! Our last consecutive clean sheets in the A-League Men actually came in March 2021, when we managed the feat in four matches in a row. That gradually turned into a Premiership-winning run... you see where I am going here?
Tommy Glover would be absolutely stoked with this, especially considering he has had some doubts surrounding his starting eleven place.
Curtis Good and Jordan Hall made a fantastic pair at the back, and Rostyn Griffiths looked particularly comfortable in the second half.
The task was established, but now is the time to perfect our form, get it right. We may have just done that.
Now, we look forward to our final home game before shipping off to the Champions League, against a Sydney FC side struggling to make the Finals.