Perth Glory recruit Neil Kilkenny has opened up about the mental struggles he endured under Melbourne City coach Warren Joyce last season, saying it was a sweet moment exacting his A-League revenge.
Kilkenny put in a star display during Glory's dramatic 2-1 victory against 10-man City at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old scored the equaliser in the 85th minute, before Adam Taggart popped up for the winner in the eighth minute of stoppage time to keep Glory's finals hopes alive.
Kilkenny was voted City's MVP last season, but was handed just 73 minutes of action this campaign under new coach Joyce before quitting the club in disgust last month.
The talented midfielder has since flourished at Glory, and he gave Joyce a stern eyeball and a spray after scoring the equaliser on Saturday night.
Joyce claimed he didn't watch Kilkenny's goal celebration, saying he was too busy giving his own side a spray.
"I'm sure he did (see it)," Kilkenny said.
"We all know that I scored, so I'm glad I could help the team get back to 1-1. It was sweet."
In the lead-up to the game, Joyce insinuated Kilkenny's training standards weren't up to scratch this season.
Kilkenny scoffed at that suggestion, saying it was simply a case of Joyce not giving him a fair go.
"Football's about opinions. To go from what I was last season, to non-existent this season ... people don't know what I went through mentally," Kilkenny said.
"Every day I was coming into training and working my socks off, and knowing I wasn't going to be playing on the weekend.
"When a manager treats you the way I was treated from the start of the season - as a player you can't really say much.
"I had to be mentally strong, and luckily I did. Because I knew once I eventually did leave, I knew I would be playing."
Glory are now just four points adrift of sixth spot, with six rounds remaining.
They will aim to make it two wins on the trot when they take on the Wanderers at Spotless Stadium next Sunday.
City are still sitting pretty in third spot, but face a crunch derby against Melbourne Victory next Friday.
Joyce was fuming at his side's lack of focus at the set piece against Glory, saying it's an area that needs to be fixed if they are to become legitimate title contenders.
"It's frustrating because you'd expect 12-year-old kids to be better than that, and be switched on to the situation," Joyce said.
Australian Associated Press