'Real leader' Kilkenny the architect of Perth Glory's precious late victory
Robbed of regular midfield partner Juande on Sunday, ever-present Perth Glory gun Neil Kilkenny rolled up his sleeves and set about turning in a performance of the highest quality.
The 32-year-old was calm, classy and wholly effective amid the drama that enveloped the league-leaders' thrilling 3-2 victory over Central Coast Mariners.
Glory's last-gasp triumph - sealed by Chris Ikonomidis in the 95th minute - owed a large debt to the former Melbourne City man.
It was from his chaos-inducing cross that the similarly impressive Ikonomidis was able to complete his decisive double at the death.
So too was it an excellent Kilkenny delivery that enabled Shane Lowry to head Glory back into a lead they had thrown away in the first half.
Perth's main man in the middle finished as the second player this Hyundai A-League season to have delivered two assists, and yet that stat only scratched the surface of his contribution.
He also instigated the opener, dinking a delightful ball over an unsuspecting Mariners defence for Joel Chianese to cushion into Ikonomidis' path.
Kilkenny's eight possession recoveries, 103 touches and incredible 56 passes in the opposition half were all game-highs, and resulted in an astute assessment from Tony Popovic.
"He's a real leader," the Glory boss said of the ex-Premier League player.
"He helped the young midfielders in Brandon Wilson and Jake Brimmer today."
If Perth are to stay top for an extended portion of the campaign, they will need experienced heads like Kilkenny to maintain such outstanding standards.