Western United Head Coach Mark Rudan wants his side to get the simple things right as they look to bounce back and exploit Western Sydney Wanderer's weaknesses.
Though their destiny still remains within their own hands, Western United’s quest to play finals football in the first year of their existence was struck a blow on Sunday evening when they went down 1-0 to Newcastle Jets.
One of the most entertaining games staged in the A-League this campaign, pre or post-pandemic break, the contest was ultimately decided by a first-half strike from Jets’ striker Roy O’Donovan, who should seen red 15 minutes earlier for an elbow on Andrew Durante, according to Rudan.
The defeat left Western four points adrift of sixth-placed Adelaide United - who play Sydney FC tonight - but with more games still to play than any other side in the A-League, they remain well-placed to stage a finals run.
Hunter North England Health on Thursday issued an alert for attendees of that game to monitor themselves for symptoms and isolate and get tested immediately should they present after a man in his 20s that was in the crowd for the fixture was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Speaking to media on Thursday afternoon, Rudan said he was pleased with the way his side had bounced back from the disappointment of the Jets’ defeat and that their focus was on Friday evening’s clash with Western Sydney Wanderers.
“We’ve had a couple of sessions and I had to cut it short yesterday because they were really eager,” Rudan said.
“They were flying, they looked sharp, they looked good and I didn’t want to overdo them, I wanted to bottle up all that enthusiasm for tomorrow’s game.
“The first message from me after the game on the bus on the way back from Newcastle was positive.
“I thought the performance was really good, I don’t think we deserved to lose that game. If we can perform that way and perform with that level of intensity and quality, it will keep us in good stead.
“We’ve had a good look [Western Sydney] and we’ve assessed and analysed [them] quite thoroughly and there are certain areas where we think we can expose. We want to get back to being ourselves and scoring goals, which we didn’t do on Sunday.
“So, we’ve got some extra motivation to make that right, but we’ve cert seen a lot of things that we can work on and expose them on.”
Western Sydney’s final hopes were left hanging by the thinnest of margins last night when the ghost of coaches once again came back to haunt them as Tony Popovic’s Perth Glory downed his former side 3-1.
Four points behind sixth-placed Adelaide United with just two games left, three points against Western would be a pre-requisite for any unlikely dash to the finals by Jean-Paul de Marigny’s side.
“They might have different individual players compared to Newcastle, however, their system remains the same,” explained Rudan.
“The only thing is they play with an inverted front three, they play more with two strikers and a ten, whereas Newcastle plays with two tens and a striker. I guess from a defensive point of view we understand how to combat that and defend against that.
“But to be honest with you, it’s been all about us, it really has been, this week.
“We just want to fine-tune what we do well with the ball and make sure that we are better with the ball because there were moments against Newcastle where I thought we were good for stages, but we could always be better. The focus is on us.
“All the players have been watching games, it’s been great to watch the opposition. We’ve watched [WSW] three times already so we know exactly what we’re up against.
“But the focus has been on us, 80% of its been about what we can do with the ball to nullify their strengths and to expose their weaknesses.
“[We need] more patience in the front third. We spoke about making sure we were in the right positions at the right time, staying disciplined in our structure and our role; don’t try to always force things, you don’t have to try and play the killer ball, particularly when it's not on.
“We had a good look at that on video in training as well.”