Wellington Phoenix coach Mark Rudan is holding his head up high despite his team’s 1-0 loss to 10-men Bentleigh Greens on Tuesday night.
Phoenix bowed out of the FFA Cup Round of 32 in Melbourne with Marco Jankovic scoring the only goal of the game.
Bentleigh undermanned for the majority of the game after James Kelly was given his marching orders in the 33rd minute but Wellington were still unable to test goalkeeper Ryan Scott.
It was the Nix boss’s first competitive game in charge and he dismissed any suggestions that their loss was an embarrassment.
“It’s not the first time an NPL club has beaten an A-League side and we’re going through a whole raft of changes at this club as well,” Rudan said post-match.
“If you think that we should be at a stage in our development under a new coach with new players that we should be winning 5 or 6-0 against a very quality side like Bentleigh, then maybe I’m looking at it differently.
“The focus wasn’t so much on tonight, we’ve got a long way to go. We still have a lot of players left to fill our roster as well.
“To call it an embarrassment, you’re actually being very disrespectful to Bentleigh because they’re a good outfit.”
Wellington have signed six new players since last season and recently returned from their pre-season training camp on the Gold Coast.
Rudan said it was early days and he was testing their endurance for now.
“We certainly didn’t underestimate the opposition, we gave them enough respect,” he said.
“We’re at a certain stage in our development. The boys are extremely tired, it was really hard and I wanted to test them under fatigue.
“Bentleigh have been a successful side for a long time under JA (coach John Anastasiadis), he’s a very good coach. It’d be great for him to get an opportunity at the top level as well one day.”