TWO goals from Craig Tone and a magnificent all-round team performance saw Mandurah City edge close to their first State League title in a decade at Ashfield on Saturday.
With two games to City can still be caught mathematically on goal difference so need just one point to secure the championship.
That point will hopefully come against Joondalup at Hyundai stadium on September 19 in the final home game of the season after City came from behind to record a fantastic win over a very good Ashfield side, who were still looking to overtake the Dolphins at the top of the table.
The deadlock was broken in the 33rd minute when the home side took the lead but it didn’t last long — nine minutes — Tone fired home his first from the edge of the box after a poor clearance.
A Jordan Rhodes free kick skimmed the bar a minute later before Burke picked the pocket of a home defender, took the ball off his toes, raced to the goal line and pulled back a cross for Tone to superbly fire hime his second.
In injury time though City went to sleep and a goalkeeper mistake allowed Ashfield to draw level at 2-2.
Whatever coach Doug Hesketh said to his team at the break worked as City slowly took control of the game.
In a half that saw few clear-cut chances, it fell to Johnny Brooks to get the all-important third goal in the 70th minute.
A deep cross into the penalty area was headed down by Tone for Brooks to fire home from 20 metres.
City had to endure an Ashfield assault late on as the home side went in search of an equaliser, despite losing a key player with a serious knee injury. But defensively they held their nerve and closed down the threats quickly.
The icing on the cake came deep into stoppage time (93 minutes) when the ever dangerous Burke was felled in the area and up stepped Jordan Rhodes to fire home the penalty.
City have now scored 64 league goals this season, conceding just 25 and have gone 18 games unbeaten.
A record? Who knows, but on a day when everything was to play for — against a very good Ashfield side — the only thing that mattered was three points.
President Pete Rowe thanked home club for their hospitality and said the club had come a long way since they last visited Ashfield.
“We got beaten 4-0, badly, and I remember a couple players saying to me we had to change it, or we would always be down there at the bottom,” Rowe said.
“We listened, and hopefully this journey we have been on for the last year will see a celebration in a couple of weeks time.
“We still have to get a point, so let’s keep focussed and make sure that happens.”