Fourth time lucky? Phoenix boss Rudan plots knockout blow for Victory

Wellington Phoenix have had Melbourne Victory on the ropes three times already this season and coach Mark Rudan knows what his side must do to deliver a knockout blow in Friday's Elimination Final.

Phoenix have drawn first blood in each of their three stalemates with the reigning Hyundai A-League champions in 2018/19 – but have been pegged back on each occasion.

Rudan’s aggressive strategy has proven effective in stifling the class and guile of Victory’s star-studded line up in the entertaining draws of December (1-1), January (3-3) and February (1-1).

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The 43-year-old admits he will not call off the dogs for Friday’s Elimination Final. But despite promising a similar full-blooded approach, the former Sydney FC star says there will be an important tweak.

 “We just need to be better in minimising our mistakes, that's all it is,” Rudan said.

“Sometimes it’s positional, sometimes it’s just little mistakes and things they could’ve done better.

We’ve been quite aggressive against them and we’ll look to do the same.

“But there are moments where we can’t be aggressive. So we have to be better and not allow them the opportunities that they have created against us.”

Roy Krishna scored two goals in a thrilling 3-3 draw between Victory and Phoenix in January

Rudan also said he was aware Friday’s do-or-die clash – Phoenix’s first finals appearance since 2014/15 – could be his last at the helm of the New Zealand club.

“I’m treating it like it’s the last game. And I want the players to play like it’s their last ever game," Rudan said.

“We’re not looking further away. It’s purely about Friday.

“I want them to give everything.”

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Mark Rudan
Win or lose, Mark Rudan will depart Wellington Phoenix at the season's end