ABOUT to turn 35, Ipswich Knights captain Stephen Hughes is still one of the most dependable players in Division 1 football.
However, he needed his experience and trademark toughness to guide his team to a 2-1 victory in yesterday's match at Bundamba.
In a fiery first half, tempers flared when the Moggill goalkeeper clashed with Knights striker Peter Drager in the penalty box.
Drager scored from the ensuring penalty after the keeper was given a yellow card for bringing the Knights player down.
However, Moggill equalised shortly after, forcing the tiring Knights to manufacture a match winner in the second half.
A superb cross from substitute Matt Savini allowed Wayne Adams to tap the ball for Drager to head in his second goal as time was running out.
The Knights held on to hold fourth spot to keep their premiership hopes alive.
"It wasn't the prettiest but it was a lot of courage there to dig in and win," Knights assistant coach Mitch Cattermole said.
"At this time of the year, that's what you've got to do.
"It's a little bit of a trait of Ashley's (coach Ashley Hempstead) sides that even when things aren't going well for us, they've got the work ethic to keep their shape."
Midfielder Hughes was one of his side's best, playing a full game with a hamstring strain.
"I didn't feel it today actually," Hughes said. "Hopefully it will be alright tomorrow."
Hughes rated yesterday's win one of his team's best for "toughing it out".
"We were probably lucky to get away with it in the end but we'll take the three points," he said.
"It was just one of those days where everyone struggled a bit and you have to battle your way through it."
It took the fresh legs of Savini to create the winning goal from a right foot cross.
"When it went in, it was a bit of relief," Savini said.
"I'm a left-footer so I'm normally on the left-hand side of the field.
"Ash (Hempstead) asked if I could play on the right and I said 'if I have to'.
"It worked out well."
Savini is one of a number of regular Reserve grade players who have made valuable contributions in recent weeks.
With the Knights since he was 16, the 22-year-old is keen to gain more top grade experience.
"I'll just play hard and make a spot for myself in this team," the speedster said.
Hughes said the Knights had to keep as fresh as possible to continue its late-season charge.
"It just comes down to player management," the skipper said.
"Who can keep stepping up and keep fit I suppose."
Cattermole backed his side.
"They've got a lot of heart so I think we'll be able to get through," the assistant coach said.