Rudan urges Wellington to press harder as Phoenix shoot for three straight

Mark Rudan promises his Wellington Phoenix side will not take their foot off the pedal after pressing their Hyundai A-League opposition off the park in their last two matches.

The New Zealanders stormed into the top six last weekend after tallying back-to-back victories over Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners.

Those victories sealed consecutive wins for Phoenix for the first time since April 2017, and just eight matches into the Rudan era the Kiwi outfit resemble a fitter, stronger and tougher proposition – one that will keep the opposition guessing as the campaign progresses.

Wellington have employed a high-octane pressing game in recent weeks, a tactical shift that the 43-year-old has termed the ‘biggest change’ in Phoenix’s impressive surge of form.

Rudan says his side will continue to impose themselves on the opposition as they aim for three in a row against Brisbane Roar on Saturday evening.

“It was always going to happen, we do play each other three times so having the seasons mapped out it was something that I wanted to do,” he told the Wellington Phoenix’s official website.

“In that last round the opposition second guess what we are we going to so, because I wanted to work on us defending in certain zones and understanding how to defend.

"We copped a lot of goals last year and its certainly an area that I wanted to improve.

“Now we're pressing harder and doing well and its all dependent on the opposition, and the skill-sets and the player profiles of their players and also how they play out as well.

“We're also keeping the ball better. There’s a lot of improvement in this team, and it’s a progression.

“So far they’ve taken this challenge on quite well in terms of our progression and there’s a lot more to come as well in terms of our playing style within our system.”

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Although visiting Brisbane arrive across the ditch seeking to avoid a fourth straight defeat, Rudan added that all the emphasis will be on extending Phoenix’s sterling recent form.

“We’re playing some fantastic football. Confidence and belief is sky high,” he continued.

“The boys are chomping at the bit. It’s been a fantastic week at training.

“We’ll be going right at them tomorrow, we'll be pressing them again.

“The players are really enjoying what we're doing right now and they can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and put in another solid performance.”