A new season, a new team, a new grudge match. To say some people have not been happy with Mark Rudan leaving Wellington to set up and coach Western United would be one of the great understatements of football.
With Durante, Kurto and Burgess following Rudan the Western United squad looked somewhat like a team rising from the ashes of last years Phoenix team with the rest of the lineup sounding like an All Stars of players we love and players we love to hate. Wellington were also rocking a new coach, Ufuk Talay, after he was released from the final year of his contract as assistant coach at Sydney to manage a team which without players like Krishna, Singh and Williams looks to lack potency.
United kicked off their time in the A-League greeted by boo’s from the crowd every time Durante touched the ball, a loud “B” sound coming naturally to the Kiwi fans. Berisha was involved early despite hardly having played in a year, finding space at times but putting chances wide. Both teams seem to be simmering but no one can boil over to find that opening goal with good passages of play from both teams but no finesse to finish. Then Wellington leave Berisha to set up camp unmarked on the six yard box to receive a cross from Risdon which he neatly puts away for Western United’s inaugural goal. Of course it is him, who else would it be? It had to be the man we love to hate, and he gets to shush us all once again. Wellington drop their heads a little going into half time, the Yellow Fever have been silenced, and it is Berisha’s goal that sets them apart at the break.
Wellington come out into the second half looking determined, and making some good chances, but yet again lack that ability to convert possession in midfield to goals, the loss of Krishna and Williams this season already looking to be devastating for their forward line. The Yellow Fever find their voice again and try to pick Wellington up with their renewed energy however this seems to have more impact on United, and they are spurred on by the jeers.
With Wellington leading a lot of the stats, it felt like they would break through to at least hold on to the draw, but they were firing blanks and couldn’t convert any of their eight corners, or fourteen shots, with only one of those on target. They are going to have a long season in front of them if they cannot change something.
Western United took the win of their inaugural match, the fifth team in A-League history to do so, Rudan has the last laugh (for now) maybe he should resign whilst he is ahead, assuming he makes it back to Australia safely.
By Michelle Reid