The week’s break did wonders for Western United.
United had a collective pep in its step when it returned to the field for Sunday’s 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in the A-League at GMHBA Stadium.
The spark that had been missing in recent games was recaptured as United banged in three goals in a 21-minute blitz to start the game to put the result beyond doubt.
United coach Mark Rudan said the opportunity for his team to exhale, refresh, reflect and project over the bye round was invaluable.
“It was good to reflect and speak about where we want to go in the second half of the season,” Rudan said.
“The atmosphere and the culture around the place, the vibe around the place, the last week and a half, the last 10 days, has been absolutely superb.
“The boys are coming in with a smile on their face. “They want to have a really big crack at this in the second half of the season.
“You can see that through their performance.”
Western United produced one of its best halves of the season in the opening 45.
United’s one-touch football, team build up and finishing was mouth watering.
Alessandro Diamanti kick-started the first half blitz for United, producing a delightful cross to the head of striker Besart Berisha, who looped his header over Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and into the top corner for the go-ahead goal.
United doubled its lead when Connor Pain made a strong run down the left and cut the ball back for Josh Risdon, who put his shot wide, only for it to cannon off Mariners defender Kye Rowles and in for an own goal.
Berisha made it three unanswered for United, tapping in from point blank range after a superb build up from Max Burgess, who took his man on one-on-one, blew past him and found Berisha in the box.
Berisha moved up to equal sixth on the goal scorers charts in Australian national league history, joining former Socceroo Francis Awaritefe on 124 goals.
“I wouldn’t call it a complete performance, it was a complete 45 minutes,” Rudan said.
Western United was put under the pump by Central Coast in the second half, but United goalkeeper Filip Kurto was not put under too much stress.
The United back three of Andrew Durante, Jonathan Aspropotamitis and first gamer Oskar Dillon stood firm.
The undisputed player of the match was Western United attacking midfielder Max Burgess.
Burgess did it all, taking players on in isolated situations, leading United’s counter-attacking play and delivering to the forwards with precision.
Western United is up to fifth on the ladder after the win.
United will play sixth-placed Adelaide United in what should be an Australia Day cracker at the VU Whitten Oval on Sunday at 6pm.