NEWCASTLE Jets coach Rob Stanton has only just scratched the surface.
The Jets broke through for their first win of the season - and Stanton's first as an A-League coach - against Western United on Saturday, beating the 2022 champions 1-0 in tough conditions in Ballarat.
It wasn't a free-flowing, entertaining spectacle that Stanton sets out to deliver each week.
But his young group displayed composure under pressure not evident in the opening three rounds.
More importantly, they found a way to win.
"I thought we showed a bit of maturity in our performance in how to manage the game in both boxes," Stanton said. "We did that really well. Sometimes you need to do that. Find a way to win.
"The benefits of the victory far out-weigh what the game looked like. It was good to get three points and a clean sheet. I'll take that and move on."
The win propelled the Jets to five points, three behind leaders Western Sydney, who they shared the points with from a 2-all draw at home.
"The first four games have been difficult in the sense that we had three away games and a difficult home game against a potential top-four side," Stanton said. "We picked up four points away from home, which is a good return. One point at home against a very good team. We reflect on that and we probably dropped two points. That game also showed our intent on how we want to play and our potential.
"I think we are showing potential and glimpses of what we could do."
"We also know we have to work on things and improve. We have been speaking about culture and growing as a club. Those things are coming to life. It's a good position to be in."
The A-League breaks for a FIFA international window next weekend.
The Jets return home for a F3 derby against the Mariners on November 25 - the first of three game at McDonald Jones Stadium in four rounds.
"There will be no breaks," Stanton said. "We will play an in-house conditioning game. "We will pay more attention to players who haven't been seen as much time, see if we can bring them up to an area where we create more competition. We might bring up a couple of young players as well.
"When we get closer, we will start to think about the Mariners and what we have to do for that game. One step at a time."
Against Western, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scored the decisive goal in the 44th minute, latching onto a rebound after Trent Buhagiar hit the underside of the bar with a header.
It was his fourth goal in four games and moved the unheralded striker to second, two goals behind Bruno Fornaroli, in the golden boot race.
Western United had 66 per cent of the ball, won the corner count 11-4 and had 50 entries into the Jets' penalty area. However, they had nothing to show for it.
The Jets were organised, desperate and resolute.
"The conditions were extremely difficult - very windy, very heavy pitch," Stanton said. "We recognised that straight away and dug our heels in. We had to defend really well, which we had done a lot of work on. We played to the conditions and got the result.
"Sometimes possession in the eyes of some is a dominant performance. As you coach, you start to realise that you want effective possession. I thought we managed them. By the time they got into the front third we were well equipped to deal with the danger. They had a couple of chances but I think our big chances out-weighed theirs."
Centrebacks Mark Natta and Phil Cancar produced there best games for the campaign. Fullbacks Dane Ingham and Lucas Mauragis also got through a power of work.
"They are young guys, so they might go up and down a little bit," Stanton said. "In the last three games, they have worked well together. We put a big emphasis on areas we wanted to improve. It is an overall performance but I'm happy for those two. When it comes to leadership, you look at centrebacks. They are 20 and 22. They are pretty young, but I believe in them."
Former Jets Daniel Penha was the most dangerous attacker for Western. The Brazilian hit the bar with a stinging shot, had a goal chalked off and was in everything good for the home side.
Jets travelling active supporters unveiled a banner in support of Penha's wife, Larissa, who was diagnosed with cancer while Daniel was in Korea.
Penha meet with the supporter and also greeted his former teammates before kick-off.
"Everyone knew about my relationship with the Newcastle Jets and the players," Penha told Paramount+ after the game. "I'll be forever grateful to the Newcastle Jets because I lived the most top moment of my life there.
"I respect everyone there. I respect the club. I'm here at Western United. Everyone knows I had good with the fans before the game too.
"I have too many friends there. It's great, it's a great team and club."