A first half onslaught allowed Albury United to take the points with a 3-1 victory against arch rivals Albury City at Jelbart Park on Sunday.
The result ends a run of eight weeks without a loss for City and keeps United a win behind Myrtleford for the league title.
Albury City goalkeeper Campbell Taylor was a late withdrawal due to illness, with his replacement Nelson Burns receiving a baptism of fire at the back.
A Djordje Cancarevic header from a corner gave United the lead after seven minutes, before Josh Mulcahy doubled the advantage with a clean finish after a brilliant pass from Aidan Rees.
Not to be outdone, Rees joined the party with curling lob over Burns to make it 3-0 after 34 minutes and it got worse for City when striker Dan Kelly was red carded for a dangerous tackle on the stroke of half-time.
City lifted their intensity after the break and Burns’ confidence grew with a number of big saves.
Hayden Curry-Johnson came off the bench to score a late goal for City and ensure the contest finished at 3-1.
United coach Matt Campbell admitted his side was a bit flat after its quick start, but was happy with the result.
He said the performances of Rees and Mulcahy were a big reason behind the win.
“He (Rees) strained his hammy, but he’s handful up front,” Campbell said.
“Josh is a big unit and he’s hard to control, so it’s hard to get the ball off him when he gets it down.
“I think they’re keeper pulled off some good saves, particularly in the second half and it could have easily been five or six, but either way it’s good to win.”
United’s Caleb Martin and Hudson Magerstein copped knocks to the knee, but both didn’t appear too serious.
City coach Matt Maw couldn’t deny his side played better with 10 men.
“If we started the way we played in the second half, I think it would have been a different game,” Maw said.
“It’s disappointing to lose, but I’m happy with the way they fought.”
Maw was particularly proud of Burns in goals.
Myrtleford kept control of top spot with a solid 4-0 victory at home to Albury Hotspurs.
Cobram was far too good for Melrose to also win 4-0.
A late goal from Adam Burchell handed Wangaratta a 2-1 victory over Boomers.
Nikola Bukvic’s hat trick gave Diamonds a 4-1 win against St Pats, while Twin City came away with a 9-1 triumph against Wodonga Heart.
The ladder after round 16 is: Myrtleford 40, Albury United 37, Wangaratta 32, Cobram 32, Albury City 27, Boomers 25, Melrose 23, Twin City Wanderers 21, Wodonga Diamonds 18, Albury Hotspurs 17, St Pats 6, Wodonga Heart 0.