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Played under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday, the home side gave as good as it got for much of the clash and had the better of the first half.
But the Auckland outfit came more into the match in the second half and began to show why it is sitting well inside the top four.
The key moment of the game came 10 minutes into the second half when Suburbs midfielder Jordan Vale took possession just in Southern United’s half.
He proceeded to run up the middle of the park and all the Southern United defenders stayed off him.
He eventually made his way into the penalty box and struck a well-taken shot with his left foot to put it past United goalkeeper Liam Little and give his side the lead.
That turned out to the only goal of the game although both teams had chances.
At this level, teams have to be clinical in front of goal and United had the opportunities to get on the scoreboard.
Striker Danny Furlong found himself with a one-on-one with the goalkeeper midway through the first half but he rather scuffed his shot and sent the ball wide.
Sam Collier then had a shot saved later in the first half. In the end, the inability to get the ball into the back of the net cost the home team.
Coach Paul O’Reilly was pleased with his side’s effort.
"We’re coming up against one of the top teams in the country and we gave it our all," he said.
"They came out well in the second half and we probably ran out of steam. But I can’t ask much more for the lads. We kept banging on the door and asking questions but their keeper made a couple of good saves."
The side has made huge progress since the start of the season and, with four games left, is aiming for an many points as possible.
Eastern Suburbs got better the longer the game went on and big striker Osita Henry Chikere was a consent menace.
O’Reilly praised youngster Hamish Cotter, who made his run-on debut for the side, and looked assured in everything he did.
The home team defence scrambled well and ran itself into the ground.