Western United midfielder Neil Kilkenny is taking plenty of positives out of the side’s 2-1 opening day defeat to Melbourne City.
City struck either side of half-time on Friday night before Nicolas Milanovic pulled one back in second-half stoppage time, and Kilkenny felt United finished the stronger of the two teams.
“I think if the game went on five more minutes, 10 more minutes…you could see they started panicking as soon as we scored,” he said.
“I know there was only three minutes to go, but that’s what top teams do. Top teams still grind in there, keep going and churn out results.
“That’s what we did last year and hopefully we can do that this season.”
As well as ending the game on top, Kilkenny felt that United created chances early on in the match and credited both goalkeepers for strong performances to thwart the respective oppositions.
James Troisi nearly had a dream start to life in the Green and Black when he had a chance less than 30 seconds into the contest before Leo Lacroix came close with his head later in the first half, but Tom Glover was equal to both attempts.
The meeting saw the two teams meet for the first time since the A-League Men Grand Final, and there was plenty of feeling in the contest with seven yellow cards dished out across the game.
Kilkenny said he felt the intensity from both sides but acknowledged the respect on the pitch as both teams prepare to challenge each other at the top end of the table.
“It was a good game. You could see they really wanted it, something to prove after the Grand Final,” he said.
“It’s one of those games, it’s a long season. We know they’ll be up there at the end of the season, and they’ll know that we’ll be right there or thereabouts as well.”
Kilkenny and his teammates will quickly turn their attentions to United’s opening home match of the season, with Sydney FC arriving at AAMI Park on Sunday October 16 at 5pm.