Tony Popovic and Mike Mulvey both liked what they saw during Friday night's 1-1 draw in SydneyFriday night's 1-1 draw at Pirtek Stadium has left both Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar talking up their A-League title chances.
The Wanderers dominated for periods of the match at Pirtek Stadium but salvation didn't arrive until five minutes from the end as Labinot Haliti finally collected a deserved equaliser for the home side.
Besart Berisha put the visitors ahead on 13 minutes in a high-tempo contest, however the high-flying Roar were on the back foot for much of the second half.
But for Haliti's late intervention the Wanderers would have fallen a near-insurmountable 10 points behind their rivals.
"These players don't know how to give up. They kept going even though we conceded early in the first half," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said.
"We could have felt sorry for ourselves because we were dominating the game and not scoring. That is human nature. But we never gave up hope.
"You could see the way we were playing the least we deserved was an equaliser. I would have liked to get it a bit earlier and I think had that happened we would have gone onto to win that game."
Popovic was delighted with his side's performance saying he felt "disappointment not to get all three points", with the Wanderers conjuring almost twice as many shots on goal as their opponents.
"They had one opportunity in the first half," said Popovic. "Aside from that (their goal) I don't think we were really troubled throughout the game.
"The performance for me overall was outstanding. That is three consecutive games where I feel we have played very well, and long may that continue.
"We are trying to improve our game constantly. And I think not panicking and patience is a sign of improvement and where the team is heading. We have finals and Asian Champions League, so it is an exciting period for the club.
"We have had two very good matches against Brisbane. Unfortunately we haven't got the points but we look forward to another opportunity."
Meanwhile Roar coach Mike Mulvey says his side will continue to further improve for the rest of the season.
With just one loss in their past six outings, and with the majority of matches at home during their run-in to the finals, the Roar remain well placed to claim the Premiers Plate and go one better than last year’s Preliminary final elimination.
Mulvey said we are "so strong right now" comparing his side’s condition to late last season when their campaign ended with defeat at the Wanderers.
"There are 11 games (including finals) in which we are going get better,"Mulvey said. "We have Matty McKay to come back. We have competition for places. We are going to get bigger and stronger and I’m really looking forward to the coming months."
Mulvey paid credit to the opponents saying the Wanderers make life hugely challenging for visiting teams.
"It was a serious examination tonight," he said. "They gave us a really good test but we expected it.
"I wouldn't say we cracked, but they found a way to open the door. To walk away with one point I would be quite happy with to tell the truth. We had chances to get a second, but at the end of the day I think it was a fair result.
Brisbane normally receive plaudits for their silk touch, but Mulvey was at pains to point out his side’s impressive work ethic which, he says, is an aspect of their game that is sometimes overlooked.
"They all work hard for each other and that is the ethos we have,"Mulvey said. "We have a great work ethic which stands us in good stead and anyone that wants to come into the team needs to have that.
"We didn’t see the best from us in terms of flair, but we rolled the sleeves up, worked hard and earned the point.
"We never go into a game looking for just a point, because that is the start of your troubles if try and do that. Attack is the best form of defence."