Cape Town City coach Benni McCarthy read the riot act to his players during the interval after a dismal first-half performance from his charges.
And the strategy worked as City hit back from two goals down to beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-2 in a Premiership clash at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
“I went into the changing room and did what I had to do,” said McCarthy. “They needed to hear they were not on Christmas holidays yet.
“There’s a game of football to be won, and the opposition team with all the problems, they’ve come here to Cape Town and push us and made a mockery of us, so they had to hear it the hard way.
“I asked for a response because I’m not going to tell them what they want to hear, I’m going to tell them straight. Rubbish is rubbish, we were that for 45 minutes, and that’s the end of that.”
McCarthy was spot-on.
Celtic were gifted both their goals from defensive errors.
Five minutes in, City’s keeper Peter Leeuwenburgh chose to dribble outside his 18-yard area and was made to pay as Ndumiso Mabena dispossessed him and put the ball into an open net.
Then, in the 17th minute, from a City throw-in inside Celtic’s half, City’s players proceeded to string together a sequence of back passes that resulted in Celtic’s Given Mashikinya scoring against his former club.
City created four clear-cut chances, two falling the way of birthday boy Teko Modise, but the 36-year-old midfielder first headed over the crossbar from close range, and then tried to loop the ball without success over the head of keeper Kabelo Dambe.
Striker Ayanda Patosi and defender Taariq Fielies both headed wide of the target.
But it was a different story in the second half.
Shortly after McCarthy made the first of three substitutions, City scored in the 59th minute with a glancing header from Siphelele Mthembu for his fifth goal of the season, which also made up for his earlier miss.
City equalised and took the lead through Surprise Ralani.
The left-winger fired in a left-footed acute-angled shot that beat the keeper at his near post, the goal coming in the 72nd minute.
He then got the winner three minutes later, this time from his right boot with a well-weighted bender that crept inside the right post.
“The best 45 minutes of football from us this season,” McCarthy said afterwards.
“That was Cape Town City football. Why we had to wait so long to see it... but a win is a win, and we’ll take it.”