Rudan “proud” of United after gutsy draw in sweltering Hunter heat

Western United coach Mark Rudan was incredibly proud of his team after they held on for a 0-0 draw against a fast-finishing Jets at a sweltering McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The final whistle telling the story of the game, with players from both sides slumped on the deck exhausted after a clash that was played in energy-sapping conditions. 

With the heat so extreme – around 40 degrees at the 5 pm kick-off – it was touch and go whether the game would, in fact, go ahead.

But it did with two sets of drinks breaks in each half mandated by the match commissioner. 

And despite the challenging conditions, United picked up a point and registered a clean sheet on the road going into next week’s bye. 

Thierry Iradukunda
Thierry Iradukunda was another of United's young guns who shone in the heat of the Hunter

“All things being considered it was a tough game for both sets of players,” Rudan told media after the game.

“But I was really proud of them. It was somewhat fortunate with a couple of big saves from our keeper [Filip Kurto] as well.

“But all things being considered very proud of the boys. Very proud.

“And the fact both sets of players could withstand the heat and put on a show for the fans. I take my hat off to both sets of players.

"And it’s not just today, we’ve seen quite a number of games played [this season] in this extreme heat.”

Rudan refused to be drawn on the issue of whether the game should have gone ahead, but he noted the wellbeing of the players was “paramount”.

“I’ve got my own opinion, I think every game should be played after 6.30 pm," he noted. 

The United head coach pointed to the starting debut of young attacking midfielder Josh Cavallo as a positive, as well as another new face in defence who has filled the breach magnificently after injuries to key defenders in Brendan Hamill and Aaron Calver and the January transfer of Ersan Gulum. 

Kurto
United keeper Filip Kurto pulled off a couple of key saves in the 0-0 draw

“Oskar Dillon, he’s been incredible. His rise, only three games in at 20 years old and his last competitive game was in the Queensland NPL in October. He hasn’t missed a beat. 

"We also gave a [Western United] debut for Tomi Uskok.

“And as for Diamanti, I’m sure he’ll be good to go after a week’s break [with the bye coming up]”

The Italian star and team captain missed the game due to injury.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Western United's next home game is against Brisbane Roar on Sunday 16 February at Mars Stadium in Ballarat.

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