Western Sydney Wanderers boss Marko Rudan praised his side’s fight after they overcame a Josh Brillante send-off to register a 1-0 win over Adelaide in the A-League Men.
Dylan Pierias’s first-half strike secured victory for the Wanderers at CommBank Stadium on Friday as they temporarily returned to the top of the table.
But Brillante’s send-off in the 78th minute ensured the Wanderers had to dig deep as Adelaide went in search of a late equaliser.
Nestory Irankunda hit the woodwork and Jonny Yull had a goal disallowed, but the Wanderers hung on to condemn the Reds to a third straight defeat.
“I’ve got to give my players a heap of credit,” Rudan said.
"They showed a lot of heart, a lot of spirit and that will and desire to fight for everything.
“That's us, and I thought our DNA was back.”
Brillante was in trouble because of a studs-up challenge on Adelaide’s Ryan Tunnicliffe. After referee Alireza Faghani viewed a replay on VAR, the experienced Wanderers midfielder was shown a straight red.
However, Rudan was confused with Faghani's consistency in officating such tackles.
“I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard it was studs-up and if that’s the case we need to be more consistent," Rudan said.
“They went studs-up twice in the first half and I said to the fourth official, ‘I thought that wasn’t allowed anymore’.
“I’ve spoken to Josh and he felt he got the ball.”
Adding to Rudan’s woes was a first-half groin injury to defender Tom Beadling, which prompted Dutch midfielder Jorritt Hendrix to shift into defence.
The switch to the back didn’t prevent Hendrix from probing forward, and it was through one promising jaunt upfield that the Wanderers broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute.
Hendrix drove forward and his long diagonal ball was knocked down into the path of Pierias, who took one touch and sent a speculative lob over Joe Gauci and into the back of the net.
Pierias had further chances to double his tally five minutes later, but he could only drag his effort wide after being played in behind.
Adelaide struggled for impetus in the first half, but Irankunda had a handful of glimpses of quality when thrown on at half-time by Carl Veart.
The teen whiz was subbed off in tears in last week’s loss to Brisbane, but threatened to be the hero late on Friday when he forced Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas to spill one of his trademark rockets.
Yull tucked home, only for replays to show he was offside and try as they might Adelaide couldn’t conjure up a late winner.
“We worked extremely hard and threw everything at the Wanderers,” Veart said.
“In the end we just didn't make the most of those opportunities that we did create.
“At times we could have created a few more if we had a little bit more care with the ball in the final third, or had a little bit more desperation to get players in the box.”