Western United head coach Mark Rudan praised his players as a reshaped Green and Black came back from an early goal down to defeat Melbourne Victory 3-1 on Sunday.
A brace from the head of Besart Berisha and a Panagiotis Kone volley put the hosts 3-1 up at the half time break after Andrew Nabbout’s early strike put the visitors ahead.
The Green and Black held onto the lead in the second half with a disciplined display at a warm GMHBA Stadium in front of over 10,000 fans.
Rudan said utilising marquee Panagiotis Kone a little higher up on the pitch closer to Berisha was a tactical tweak that helped, while debutant Jerry Skotadis put in a tigerish and energetic display in centre midfield.
Both gave United a boost on a day when the hosts were desperate to snap a three-game losing streak.
United Western United is now fourth on the ladder with 13 points.
“Jerry’s done really well and is knocking on the door. Jerry’s come in and stepped up. Really proud of him,” Rudan told reporters after the game.
“A young player that’s been overlooked by two A-League clubs.
“But we saw something in him and with his persistence and work ethic, he’s made his A-League debut and did really well.
“It’s a funny old game,” Rudan added. “In the last three games we’ve won every facet in terms of stats except the one that’s most important, that’s the scoreboard.
“Today … our first-half performance we did enough to win that game. And in the second half, they [United] rolled up their sleeves, were very disciplined. Very structured in terms of our game plan.”
Berisha’s double had the home fans off their seats singing his praise.
You cannot keep the A-League legend down, and after a tense few weeks, the fiery striker looks set to get even better.
“We’ll never take that out of him,” Rudan said of his striker’s win-at-all-costs attitude. “He understands now, however, that as a football club he needs to adhere to certain values and it’s not about him or myself or the players.”
Next Friday night, United travel to the Sunshine State to face Robbie Fowler’s Roar.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Western United’s next home game is against Wellington Phoenix at Mars Stadium, Ballarat on December 28. Kick-off is 5:00pm.
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