Wellington Phoenix boss Mark Rudan feels his side have turned a corner and showed how in a fantastic 3-1 win at Sydney FC on Saturday.
Rudan - a Sydney FC great in his playing days - felt Phoenix’s 1-1 draw with ladder-leaders Perth last week provided his side with the injection of belief they desperately needed.
And he watched on with joy as his well-executed plan to press Sydney FC up the pitch worked a treat, with the Sky Blues’ high defensive line exploited for both of Roy Krishna’s first-half goals.
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Steven Taylor added one in the first half, too, meaning Michael Zullo’s late effort was merely a consolation for the Premiers.
“We wanted to press them high. You saw both of Roy’s goals were exactly the same,” Rudan said afterwards.
“We worked on the training pitch to try and open them up exactly the same way and that’s where I’m most pleased.
“Maybe they underestimated us. We played them in pre-season, we sat off them, we never really got over the halfway line.
“One of the big things that we’ve been trying to work on was our mentality and the real belief.
“Certainly their coach has got a lot of belief in them.
“It’s just a mindset - it really is. I thought today and particularly last week - I think that was the turning point for us.
“When they started to believe in themselves, they started to believe in what we were working on in pre-season.”
Rudan said he hoped the work he did with his players in pre-season was now starting to resonate but added his side faced the difficult challenge of consistency.
“[We] worked them hard in pre-season, you know you don’t always see the results early on," he said.
"But I would say it’s still very early.
“We’re only Round 7, there’s 20 games to go, a lot of things can happen … the challenge for our players is consistency.
“We’ve been up and down as well. We certainly don’t want to be an inconsistent team but belief is the big one for them.”
Sydney FC boss Steve Corica said his side’s “lack of concentration” defensively was a disappointing factor of a performance that was “not good enough”.
“We got caught out way too many times,” he said.
“And that’s the second week in a row that we’ve had a bad start.
“We can’t afford to do that against teams and it’s very hard to come back from three goals.”