The depth of the Gungahlin United FC side was put to the test on Sunday but with their star striker out, Natalie De Marco stepped up to fill the void.
De Marco slotted away two and her follow-ups on her teammates' shots proved the difference, with Gungahlin claiming a close 3-2 triumph over Canberra United Academy.
United opened the scoring after Nikita Perry intercepted a pass in the final third and played in her teammate Anna Hunt. Hunt's shot was stopped by Gungahlin's Kailey Tonini but slipped through her legs for an easy tap-in from United's Sofia Christopherson.
Erika Pennyfield's shot from a tight angle eight minutes later provided the equaliser for Gungahlin.
The home side's second came courtesy of a follow-up from a long-range Stefanie Lejins effort. De Marco followed it up and was right there when Chloe Lincoln pushed it out in the 35th minute.
Gungahlin coach Diego Iglesias said the victory showed the side's depth, with Michelle Heyman out and other regular starters not firing at 100 per cent.
"These tight games where you play teams like the Academy, who don't go away, you know that you've got to play for 90 minutes which is what we had to do," he said.
"So the talk at half-time was very much keep doing what we're doing, maintain the shape and we addressed a couple of areas we thought they were hurting us. Their girls can play good footy with or without Michelle [Heyman]. Obviously with her on the field she adds extra to the team, but they're a good bunch of ... footballers, so it's an important message that they can get these victories against tough teams when we're down a couple of players."
Gungahlin were due for a win, after alternating between losses and wins in their last five games.
United on the other hand has been deflated since it broke Canberra Croatia FC's win streak back in May, managing two losses and a draw last week to give Tuggeranong United FC its only point of the season so far.
United found its equaliser off a left-hand side free kick in the 55th minute. Meg Roden stepped up to curl it in with her right foot and found Perry on the back post to head it home 2-2. Another follow-up by De Marco proved the difference for Gungahlin to claim its third. Off a throw-in down the left, Jade Brown fired off a shot and her teammate was there for the second try to make it 3-2.
United coach Vicki Linton said it was a disappointing result but she was pleased with her side's endeavour.
"That's what we are really focused on, with this as a development squad, is their individual development and team development. That's what I reinforced to them," she said.
"We made a few mistakes and you get punished for them and there's some things that we need to improve on but I'm really proud of their resilience and how they came back into the game."
Academy drops to sixth with West Canberra Wanders FC moving into third. The three points for Gungahlin puts them in fifth.
AT A GLANCE
Round 12: Canberra Croatia FC bt Belconnen United FC 3-1; West Canberra Wanderers FC bt Tuggeranong United FC 2-1; Canberra Olympic FC bt Wagga City Wanderers FC 6-0.