Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic hailed the fighting qualities of besieged striker Dino Kresinger after his side’s 1-0 win over Brisbane.
Kresinger was met with a chorus of boos as he made his way onto Parramatta Stadium in the 76th minute, but those same fans were soon chanting his name after he muscled his way into the penalty area only to be brought down by Matt Jurman.
Shinji Ono’s ensuing penalty – his first for the club – settled the issue and moved WSW into the rarefied air of the A-League top four.
Kresinger has been a constant target for fans but Popovic, who claimed not to hear the booing, senses the shaven-headed forward may have turned the corner.
“He came on and he did a good job. He won the penalty and showed some good signs,” Popovic said.
“It was great to see that he played with confidence.
“You get your visa players and they all take time to adapt and some longer than others.
“With Dino it has taken a bit of time but if we didn’t have belief in him we wouldn’t have put him on.”
The Wanderers were staring at their sixth game without a goal before Ono’s spot-kick broke the stalemate.
The hosts rode their luck in the dying stages as the Roar came in search of an equaliser, but held on to rise five places on the table.
“It was a great result. We’ve finally been rewarded for some of the great football we’ve been playing,” Popovic said.
“We’ve created a lot of opportunities or shots on goals in the games to date without any reward.
“On another day it might have finished 0-0 but you keep moving forward and you keep believing in what you’re doing.
“I’m really pleased for the players.”
Only superior goal difference is keeping Brisbane from the bottom of the ladder, but coach Rado Vidosic insists it is no time to panic despite the defending champions’ sixth loss in 11 games.
“We need to keep working and believing in ourselves,” he said.
“We are losing games but it is not like we are second best most of the time.
“Sooner or later our luck will change and we’ll start winning some games.”