GJ Gardner Homes Wanganui Athletic have their revenge, but most importantly, they remembered how to have fun again on a football field in the 3-0 disposal of Hokowhitu FC at Skoglund Park on Saturday.
Well and truly down in the dumps after losing 2-1 to the same team in the second round of Lotto Federation Cup at Wembley Park last Monday, Athletic were allowed some time for self reflection by coach Jason King before kickoff.
King told a quiet dressing room they did not need to change any tactics, given they knew their opposition very well, but what he really wanted was to see them having some fun again.
"Get back to why we play football in the first place. Don't get yourself too over serious."
The coach them left the players by themselves before the warmups, and was pleased to see they came out of the sheds in lighter spirits, joking around with each other.
It worked, as Athletic controlled momentum for well over half of the match, while increasing their goal scoring output for the entire Lotto Federation League season by 38 percent.
King was delighted.
"Especially the way the game played out – the guys went out and played some of the best football they've played in a few games.
"You sit and look at the result and think, 'how did we go down to this team five days ago'?"
Athletic got three shots on goal during the first nine minutes and the third attempt found the back of the net, courtesy of Scott Burney.
"For me, "I just walk into the changing rooms and say, 'don't be s**t'."
Although the visitors could not add to their tally before halftime, creating a little nervousness as they have been up by a goal before this season, only to succumb by the finish, King said he kept his instructions light to maintain the positivity.
Will King, new to the team this year, then scored in the 63rd minute, on a shot that Burney could have got a touch on if he wanted but pulled his foot back because it was heading over the goal line.
Ryan Holden then wrapped the match up with his second goal in five days against the same team, scoring in the 78th minute.
One of the Hokowhitu players had a head clash with Burney after Holden's goal, leaving the field for a concussion test, so the home team had to finish with ten on the pitch as they had already used up three reserves.
However, King said Hokowhitu had already mentally checked out of the match by then.
Athletic's second win of the League moved them to a 2-2-3 record in seventh spot, and does keep them in sight of home town rivals Versatile Wanganui City (3-1-3) in fifth.
"Just the fact everyone was able to pick themselves back up. That was hugely satisfying to watch," said King.
The team received another boost in support not long after kickoff due to the arrival of the GJ Gardner Homes Wanganui Athletic Reserves on their bus from nearby Celaeno Park.
The winless Reserves had earlier pulled off the big upset, beating North End 3-2 in the Horizons Premiership, meaning it was quite the celebratory trip home for both squads before parking up at the Wanganui Athletic FC clubrooms for the evening.