Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat applauded the improved mental resolve his side displayed in holding Western Sydney Wanderers to a 0-0 draw on Saturday night.
Still smarting from last week’s 3-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix, Victory overcame a second-half red card to see out a well-earned point at ANZ Stadium.
“Last week was between the ears. It was upstairs,” Muscat told Fox Sports.
“I can reel off stats and data and work rate and all that sort of stuff but if you’re not right [mentally], if you’re second to every ball, you’re going to run more than the opposition anyway. Tonight I thought we were at it.
“We showed some good spirit and some good qualities to keep Lawrence [Thomas] from having to make too many saves.”
While a stout defensive effort helped sew up second spot, Muscat found just as many positives in the rest of his side’s performance, adding: “I’m more satisfied with the way we started the game.
“I thought we defended well prior to going down to 10 men. We were confident [a goal] would have come in the second half.
“In the end the way the second half played out we’re obviously satisfied with the performance and with a point.”
Meanwhile, Western Sydney defender Robbie Cornthwaite blamed a lack of composure in front of goal for contributing to the frustrating 0-0 draw.
Wanderers played with an extra man for over half an hour following Daniel Georgievski’s sending off but couldn’t break down a resolute Victory.
The stalemate ends Western Sydney’s chances of cracking the top four and hosting a home final.
“I think at times we got a bit impatient, tried to force things or have a shot when it wasn’t on,” Cornthwaite told Fox Sports. “We shifted them around but full credit to them, with 10 men they got behind the ball and held us out.
“We would have liked to have a home final. We gave it our all and on the night it wasn’t good enough.”
Western Sydney will still carry strong form into the Finals Series despite the squandered opportunity, especially if they register a win away to Adelaide United in the final round of the regular season.Saturday night’s draw extends their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions and Cornthwaite added: “It’s another clean sheet and another positive result so we keep going from here.”