'Unbelievable' return is only the beginning for Wanderers, says local boy Duke
Western Sydney Wanderers may not have got a result against Leeds but they did bring the feel-good factor back to Wanderland, says Mitchell Duke.
The Liverpool-born striker, who grew up around 20km south of the brand-new Bankwest Stadium, led his boyhood club out as captain for their first match back in Parramatta after three years in the wilderness.
The Wanderers’ new home exploded in celebration when Kwame Yeboah’s 48th-minute strike cancelled out Mateusz Bogusz’s ninth-minute opener for the English Championship giants.
Spanish international Pablo Hernandez had the final word in the 95th minute to seal a late 2-1 win for Leeds but Duke believes a magical atmosphere on an emotional night left Wanderers feeling like winners.
“It’s great to see everyone back here with massive support,” Duke said.
“It created an unbelievable atmosphere and there’s things to look forward to for the season to come.
“All of the boys played well and it’s still early in pre-season so there’s still so much more to come. It’s an exciting time for the club.”
Markus Babbel’s side were under serious pressure throughout the pre-season friendly but Western Sydney looked set to snatch a share of the spoils, until the Hernandez late show.
The stoppage-time winner may have taken some of the shine off a historic evening but Duke admits he cannot begrudge Marcelo Bielsa's men the victory.
“It’s tough to concede right at the end of the game but I’m very happy with the boys,” Duke added.
“I thought we played good parts of the match, with great intensity and very aggressive. Credit to Leeds, they are a big club, and a great team and they deserved the win at the end.
“I’m just loving the atmosphere here, it’s been amazing.”