Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan admitted he needed to give his players a rocket at half time in Saturday’s 3-2 Hyundai A-League win over the Central Coast Mariners.
Rudan also shook things up tactically at the break after the winless Mariners took in a two-goal lead thanks to a Matt Simon penalty and an Andrew Hoole strike.
Among Rudan’s changes was the introduction of substitute Cillian Sheridan, who again caught the eye off the bench in a match that swung following Kye Rowles’ 46th-minute red card.
That gave Roy Krishna the chance to score from the spot and he duly converted, before scoring another penalty.
David Williams then got the winner for the Phoenix with a fierce effort from close range.
“You probably didn’t want to be there at half time,” Rudan told reporters.
“I don’t normally do that, either, but they needed a bit of a wake-up call.
“And it wasn’t just about, I guess, putting my foot down and being a touch louder in terms of my tone, it was also tactical.”
Rudan hailed Sheridan’s involvement, claiming the Irishman made a “significant impact” in the comeback win.
And despite being pleased with the victory, a result that extended Phoenix’s unbeaten streak to eight matches - a new club record - Rudan could not hide his displeasure at Wellington’s sloppy first half.
“I was extremely disappointed with the way we started, particularly giving away another goal from a set-piece,” he added.
“We pride ourselves on defending really well. We gave two away against the Wanderers - the first time we have conceded from a set piece or a corner and we did it again.
“More importantly was the reaction … I wasn’t happy that we weren’t able to stick to our guns and be strong and resilient, particularly in the opening 30 minutes, where we knew they were going to come out and do something.
“They absolutely deserved their 2-0 lead at half-time so it’s an area they [Phoenix] need to improve.”
Central Coast Mariners boss Mike Mulvey said defeat was a bitter pill to swallow after his side took a two-goal lead.
“It’s gut wrenching. It’s a very upset dressing room,” he said.
“We were great in the first half - they didn’t get a kick and we took them apart.
“Games change on moments. We have banged on all week about the forward runs of Krishna and we didn’t get that right. It’s a tough one to swallow.
“We will be okay - we just need a couple of extra bodies to help us for the rest of the season.”