Western Sydney coach Mark Rudan has praised his Wanderers side for producing a mature performance against the Reds as they held off a fast-finishing Adelaide United to record a 2-1 win at Coopers Stadium.
The Wanderers found themselves 1-0 down after just eight minutes on Wednesday when Craig Goodwin scored a stunning free kick for Adelaide, before Ramy Najjarine and Phillip Cancar both found the net to complete an impressive fightback.
Following his appointment to the Wanderers in late January, Rudan said a key focus had been changing Western Sydney’s mentality and the display against the Reds was testament to the progress he’s made over the last six weeks.
“One main thing that I’ve been speaking about was the mentality,” Rudan said.
“Making sure that if we do go a goal down and it happens, that we are able to pick ourselves back up and stay positive and play our football and play our game.
“Away from home, not many teams would come here and get a result but to do it when you’re 1-0 down was impressive.”
The two sides will square off again in a few days’ time and Rudan believes the Wanderers will have the upper hand heading into the clash at Commbank Stadium on Sunday.
Rudan hinted changes were likely for the reverse fixture and also hopes the home support continues to gather momentum.
“When you know you’re playing a home and away kind of tie, which is quite unique, we needed to get past the first hurdle and that was playing away from home and putting in a good performance and a good shift,” he said.
“I rested a few players today that have been playing a lot of football – (Tomer) Hemed, (Keijiro) Ogawa and (Adama) Traore, very experienced players.
“The gamble paid off and we’ve got personnel to come back in front of our home fans who are building momentum themselves.
“I’m really glad for them because we do need them and it showed when we played against Sydney FC in the derby just how important they were for us.”
Reds coach Carl Veart felt his side turned in one of their better performances for the campaign despite the match ending in defeat.
“The boys gave everything tonight,” he said.
“They played some really good stuff in that first half I thought, some of the best football of the season.
“We kept knocking on the door but we just couldn’t get the goal, which is unfortunate.
“It happens sometimes in football but I’m happy with the way we went about it tonight.”