Western United go top of ALM, again, after winning 1-0, again.

The Western United revival rolls on. Restored to the top of the A-League Men table after downing Sydney FC 1-0, Wednesday afternoon’s triumph at AAMI Park means that coach John Aloisi’s side has now equalled their win total from the 2020-21 season – eight triumphs delivered by the 46-year-old in just 13 games this campaign. 

Delivered thanks to Steven Lustica’s 67th minute strike, his fourth goal of the season, the result was the seventh time the side in Green and Black have won by a 1-0 margin this season; their league-leading defence averaging less than a goal a game with 11 conceded in 13 games. 

In handing Sydney their first loss in five games, Western also extended their undefeated streak in league play to six – a new record for the club – ahead of their trip to Tasmania to take on Perth Glory on Sunday. 

Missing the chance to vault into third place on the table, coach Steve Corica’s side will have to pick themselves off the canvas and prepare to host second-placed Melbourne City on Saturday evening. 

And they will likely do so ruing what might have been, as while it took a few minutes for them to get going it was pretty much all Sydney across the opening half of Wednesday’s contest. 

In the 14th, Adam Le Fondre’s headed effort off an Anthony Caceres corner led to a scramble at the back post that was eventually cleared out for another corner and moments later Max Burgess headed wide after being found by a Rhyan Grant cross. 

Deployed deep in the Sydney midfield after previously job-sharing with Milos Ninkovic further forward, Burgess was a standout in a losing effort for his side. 

Bobo would subsequently knock a ball down to Caceres in the Western area for a shot on the quarter-hour mark before Le Fondre again stung the gloves of Young two minutes later. 

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Further chances to Paolo Retre, Bobo, Caceres would follow but the Harboursiders remained frustrated in their attempts to turn their dominance on the stat sheet into goals on the scoreboard. 

Western themselves would have two chances late through Adisew Bayew and Lachlan Wales, who the day prior had inked a two-year contract extension in Melbourne’s west, but they were notable more for the contrast they provided to the City dominance than their actual validity as goalscoring opportunities. 

Nonetheless, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Western heading down into the sheds.

Whereas the Sky Blues were without question the better side and had been peppering their foes’ goal with shots, they were not producing the type of chances that would truly give Young palpitations. Indeed, despite sending 13 shots in on the Western net after 45 minutes, coach Steve Corica’s side, according to FotMob, had only been able to produce 0.69 xG. 

And while the game’s excitement levels may have taken a dive in the opening exchanges of the second stanza, that seemed to suit Western just fine: Aleksandar Prijovic forcing Andrew Redmayne into action after he sent the goalkeepers attempted clearance straight back in the 50th minute and Ben Warland almost looping his clearance of a Lustica cross into his own net six minutes later.

In the 67th minute they then took their reward when Neil Kilkenny laced a ball into the feet of Prijovic that the attacker, in proper number nine areas, killed with his first touch back to goal and laid off into the onrushing Lustica. 

The 30-year-old, who himself had signed a one-year contract extension earlier in the week, then rounded Grant before firing inside the far post. 

Perhaps the Harboursiders had used up all their creative attacking impetus in the first half as they struggled to create anything much of note as the second 45 wore on, perhaps the most threatening effort on Young’s goal coming when he was forced to react quickly to collect a deflected cross from Connor O’Toole in the 82nd minute. 

Substitute Dylan Wenzel-Halls would have two late opportunities to seal it for the hosts in the minutes but in the end, they wouldn’t be needed: the Western United wins 1-0 train rolling on. 

Enjoying Joey’s coverage of Australian sport? Your support helps keep it possible.
You’re seeing this advert because this is an unpaid, self-published piece.

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