Mitch Duke says the 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Newcastle Jets last month proved the catalyst for Western Sydney Wanderers' four-game unbeaten run
The Wanderers notched up their third win in four with a comprehensive 4-1 dismantling of Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Duke scored a long range equaliser in the 15th minute to cancel out Roar’s 7th minute opener by Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
A sublime brace by Oriol Riera (35’, 38’) and a second half strike by a resurgent Roly Bonevacia (92) completed the rout as Roar shipped their 50th goal of the season.
Remarkably Duke, who joined Wanderers in January after four years in Japan, said it was Wanderers’ low point in Round 17 that turned things around for Western Sydney.
"I think there’s just a lot more belief within the squad,” the 28-year-old attacker told Fox Sports post-match.
“Obviously the first game I was involved in was a 5-1 rout. But since then we kind of reset goals to finish off the season and everyone’s really just following through with that and having such good confidence and belief in themselves.
“We just wrote down a list between the boys… The coach and the team – we all sat together and we just wrote ideas and words – key words that we should focus on, to strive for every time we go out for a game. And you know the boys are really following through.
“Hard work, discipline, individual jobs – just things like that – we kind of wrote down on a list. We set little targets as well, a certain amount of clean sheets, certain number of goals that we want to score. Short term goals and just going at it game by game and so far it’s worked.”
Coach Markus Babbel raised eyebrows when he left star signing Alexander Baumjohann out of the line-up following some sub-par training results.
Duke added: “Look everyone’s stepped it up in training since I’ve been here. In that first week I kind of noticed everyone step up another level.
“And you know what, the form the boys are in, it takes a bit more than your reputation to get you in the team now. They’re pushing him at another level so it’s up to him now to kind of prove his wealth.”
Duke’s goal was his second since returning to the A-League from Shimizu S-Pulse and said his stint in Japan had revolutionised his game.
“To survive four years in Japan you have to adjust, technically they’re unbelievable over there,” he said.
“I think in the first six weeks I went there I was pretty much chasing shadows. I had to learn quick otherwise I wasn’t going to last.
“To be honest it’s helped my game massively and it’s given me a huge amount of confidence. I want to show what I can do now, back here in the A-League.”
Duke, who came off a seven week hiatus to join Wanderers, put in a 60 minute shift before being subbed. Wanderers remain a long shot to make the finals and remain eight points off the top six with six games remaining.
But for Roar the news is all bad. Adrift in 9th spot, the once A-League giants are on course for their worst ever points return with just 15 after 21 matches.