Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has praised the resilience of Jerrad Tyson after the goalkeeper kept a clean sheet against Perth Glory in his long overdue club debut.
The former Gold Coast United custodian has served as understudy to Ante Covic for the past 18 months but had not played a competitive game until an injury to the former Socceroo allowed Tyson to finally step up.
The 24-year-old didn't disappoint, putting forward a faultless display in the 2-0 win at NIB Stadium.
"We've got to manage the squad well and use every player and we're comfortable doing that, and you saw that with our goalkeeper," Popovic said. "He hasn't played at all, but to keep training every day, just waiting for that opportunity, it's a challenge for him personally. He showed why he's a true professional and had a great game."
The Wanderers were on the back foot for much of the evening, ending the game with just 42 per cent of possession and only 190 passes – compared with the Glory's 397.
"The performance, I think, could be better," Popovic said. "In the second half we probably gave away too much possession and gave them a chance to get back in the game.
"Jerrad made a fine save off a corner at 1-0 and we then made it 2-0 – and that all came from us losing the ball when we had good possession.
"That's something we can improve on but the way the players fought for each other showed real character."
Popovic's attention has already shifted to the Asian Champions League, where the Wanderers will make their competition bow on Wednesday night at home to Ulsan Hyundai at Parramatta Stadium.
"We've got a big schedule," he said. "It's just one game at a time for us. It's a great three points. We've got to put that behind us now, recover well and get back and focus on playing in a prestigious tournament, the ACL.
"We're proud to be associated with it and, as a staff and playing group, we're really looking forward to it and we want to give it a really good shot."
One of the most laughable moments of the season came when Perth marquee William Gallas spectacularly failed to clear the ball, allowing Tomi Juric to stroll in and ice the game.
"That happens in football, doesn't it?" Popovic said. "But you've got to put away the opportunity and Tomi took the chance well. He showed a lot of composure."
Meanwhile, Central Coast assistant coach Wayne O'Sullivan said the players had recovered well despite a hectic 24 hours during which the Mariners lost 4-1 to Wellington Phoenix and travelled to Sydney then Korea for Tuesday night's opening Asian Champions League match against FC Seoul.
"Obviously with the turnaround from the Phoenix match it is vitally important that the players do all the right things from now until game day," O'Sullivan said. "We've got two training days so we'll work hard over the next two days to obviously put some stuff in place for the game and do some video with [goalkeeping coach] John Crawley and the gaffer [Phil Moss]."
The Mariners have been able to gather intelligence on some of FC Seoul's key strategies thanks to the recent arrival of two players with an intimate knowledge of Korean football.
"I think it's fabulous that we have Kim Seung-yong and Eddy Bosnar because it can be very difficult to access reliable information," O'Sullivan said. "Right now they [FC Seoul] are not in competition but they've played some pre-season games recently, so with Kim's and obviously Bosnar's input hopefully we've got a bit more information than we might have had in the past."