Despite his side’s 1-0 loss to Sydney FC on Wednesday night, Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan believes his side have been paid a massive compliment by the way in which the visitors played.
Sydney FC took an early lead thanks to Siem de Jong’s 25th-minute strike, though it was Wellington who dominated proceedings with 64% of possession and had a Roy Krishna penalty denied late.
The Sky Blues’ defensive setup buoyed Rudan, acknowledging how far the Phoenix have come under his tenure.
“There are a lot of positives to take out of that (loss),” the Phoenix boss said.
“Not everyday does a team like Sydney FC come to our shores and play the way they did.
“They got a goal from a set-piece — I’ve been talking about the set-pieces and we weren’t good enough in that regard — but from there on I thought we completely dominated them.
“It shows you just how much respect now we’ve got from other teams when they just back themselves up, two banks of four, and they were waiting to play on the counter-attack against us.”
The loss was Phoenix’s first in 10 games during a run which took Rudan’s men into the top-six. Wellington sit eight points clear of seventh-placed Newcastle Jets and are seven points off a top-three spot.
And with their third fixture in six days on the horizon against Melbourne City, Rudan was relishing the opportunity to right their Round 15 wrong.
“We dust ourselves off, we look forward to the next game ASAP,” said Rudan.
“My message to the players will be: Once again, there are a lot of positives to take out of that, you should be proud of the way we tried to perform.
“We stuck to our principles and structures, that was also pleasing.
“We didn’t look to lump it into the box, we didn’t look to play anything different, and again it’s a really good sign for me that we didn’t look to panic…we continued to do what we do as a football club.”
The last time Wellington faced City was in Round 4, goals to Ritchie De Laet and Bruno Fornaroli guided Warren Joyce's men to a 2-0 win.
Since that fixture, times have changed.
City's frontline looks less assured, while Wellington have proven themselves to be a stoic outfit blessed with attacking flair.