Carl Veart praised the character of his Adelaide United players after fighting back to salvage a 2-2 draw against 10-man Melbourne City on Tuesday night.
The Reds were staring down a 2-0 deficit at half-time but responded superbly after the interval with Craig Noone’s dismissal also the catalyst in the comeback.
Kristian Opseth converted a penalty which substitute Pacifique Niyongabire won after a mazy run, before Ben Halloran equalised in the 91st minute with a stunning finish.
Veart said the message at the break was what he opined prior to kick-off.
“At half-time it was the same as before the game,” he told reporters in the post-match press conference.
“To be brave, and to take the game on. I thought even the first-half and second-half I thought we dominated the majority of the game.
“They had a couple of good counter-attacks and that’s where they got their goals from and a little bit of luck their way.
“But other than that I thought we were completely in charge for the 90 minutes.”
United’s urgency and desperation further lifted once Noone was given his marching orders for a reckless challenge on Michael Jakobsen.
Veart responded soon after by introducing Niyongabire at the expense of a defender in Ryan Kitto, and lauded the team’s desire after staying unbeaten in the five matches post lockdown.
“We had nothing to lose so we went all out attack,” he said.
“And the spirit that the boys showed, the fight that they showed, the commitment that they showed I couldn’t be any prouder.
“I think all our fans back home in Adelaide would be extremely proud and happy as well. We didn’t get the result we wanted but we can’t fault the effort that the players put in.”
The result, however, means finals football is out of the Reds’ destiny with Western United only requiring a victory from their remaining three games to secure sixth place.
“It’s completely out of our hands now,” he acknowledged.
“We’ve done as much as we could do and now it’s up to the football gods.”
Veart said they will use the next few days to recuperate before learning their fate.
“The next couple of days we’ll just relax, hang round the hotel, maybe play some cricket,” he continued.
“Maybe play some board games, have a bit of fun and enjoy ourselves, and watch some football.
“We’ll all support Perth tomorrow night and then we’ll support Sydney and Melbourne City as well.”