Central Coast Mariners' gamble on rookie A-League coach Paul Okon is already paying off according to Connor Pain who credits his Young Socceroos mentor for his strong club debut in the opening round.
Pain claimed man-of-the-match honours in the Mariners' historic 3-3 comeback draw against Perth after wreaking plenty of havoc down his team's left edge.
And the 22-year-old attributed most of his work to last month's sensational appointment of Okon, who mentored Pain during his time looking after the Young Socceroos.
Okon was rushed into the role in early August following the departure of Tony Walmsley.
"I've been under him for two to three years now. It was pretty good to see him coming here. We knew what we were going to get," Pain told reporters on Tuesday.
"The way we're trying to play, the wingers stay high and wide and make those runs in behind. I like doing my running in behind the defenders, so the way we're trying to play suits me to a T."
Pain's arrival at Gosford comes after four seasons at the Melbourne Victory, where he started just seven of their 27 games last campaign.
Ahead of Saturday's crunch match against Sydney FC at Moore Park, he admitted moving to the Central Coast in search of more playing time.
"I've come here to try play a lot more games and try and do a lot more for the team," he said.
"The second half I think contributed to helping us get that scoreline reversed. I was pretty happy with my performance."
Slated as wooden spoon contenders in the preseason, Pain said he was also thrilled with the way the Mariners stuck it to their critics in their first game of the season.
"[Okon] came in after the game and was really happy with the way we fought. It's the way we are up here, fighting spirit has been drilled into us," he said.
"To do it in the first round to prove doubters wrong is a good first step."