ALM Match Preview: Adelaide United vs Western United

Nikita Rukavytsya Western United

Western United will be hoping to rise up the Isuzu UTE A-League Men table when it takes on Adelaide United on Good Friday.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 22

Adelaide United vs Western United

Friday, 29 March

Kick-off: 7:00pm AEDT

AAMI Park, Melbourne

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+

Western United Team News

Over two weeks since United’s last fixture, John Aloisi has brought in four new names into his extended squad to face the Reds.

Tom Heward-Belle is fit to return to the squad after overcoming a finger injury, though Aloisi told the media pre-game that Matt Sutton would keep the starting job in goal for this game.

Left-back Connor O’Toole makes a return to the extended squad having missed the last seven matches after sustaining a hamstring injury.

Having shone for United’s Senior Academy side at the beginning of the VPL 1 Men’s season, Jake Najdovski and Jordan Lauton are also included in the 20-man squad and will be eager to feature on Friday night.

Western United squad: 1. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 4. James DONACHIE, 6. Tomoki IMAI, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 10. Steven LUSTICA, 11. Daniel PENHA, 13. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 22. Kane VIDMAR, 24. Connor O’TOOLE, 32. Angus THURGATE, 33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 39. Matthew GRIMALDI, 43. Khoder KADDOUR, 44. Jordan LAUTON, 49. Jake NAJDOVSKI, 77. Riku DANZAKI

Full Western United squad

Last time out

Western United salvaged a 2-2 draw with rivals Melbourne Victory in the last Isuzu UTE A-League Men fixture before the international break.

Watch the highlights from another thriller against Melbourne Victory

Daniel Penha gave the Green and Black the lead but United needed a late equaliser from Ben Garuccio to eventually come away with a point in a thrilling contest.

Previous Meetings

After a positive early run, Western United has been on the wrong side of the head-to-head battle with Adelaide United of late.

The Green and Black won two and lost only one of the first five meetings between the two teams, but the Reds have since bounced back with four wins from the following five matches.

A 1-0 win in December 2021 made Western United history, marking the Club’s record winning run in the men’s competition with four triumphs on the bounce, and Aloisi will be hoping his side can harness the 5-1 win from the Club’s first ever trip to Coopers Stadium in 2020.

Key Matchup: Daniel Penha vs Isaias

Daniel Penha has been in electric form for Western United and will be keen to make sure the international break does nothing to halt his surging momentum on the pitch.

The Brazilian shines every time he takes to the field and has been one of the Isuzu UTE A-League’s best players all season, particularly in the last few weeks.

Penha has scored in each of his last four starts and has four goals and three assists in his last five appearances for the Green and Black.

He will be a handful for Adelaide United to deal with, and it could come down to veteran Spanish midfielder Isaias to try and stop him.

The 37-year-old has racked up 227 appearances in the Isuzu UTE A-League – all for Adelaide United – and continues to perform at a high level.

Penha will look to take control of the game immediately and will need to be at his crafty, magical best to get the better of Adelaide’s midfield custodian.

Western United Player to Watch: Ben Garuccio

Western United’s excellent run of recent performances has coincided with a surge in form at left-back from Ben Garuccio.

The No.17 has scored three goals since the turn of the year and was tremendous last time out against Victory, scoring the late equaliser and assisting Penha’s opener.

Alongside his blistering run of form, Garuccio will have some extra motivation for this one being against his hometown Adelaide United, where he played from 2016-2018.

Garuccio will also be looking to get the better of his best mate and podcast co-host Stefan Mauk in what looms as an intriguing battle on the pitch.

With all that aside, there is no doubt that Garuccio’s focus will be squarely on the game once the whistle blows for kick-off, and he will be pivotal to United’s chances of securing three points if he can put in another impressive display.

Words from John Aloisi

On the competition in goal with Matt Sutton set to keep his place ahead of Tom Heward-Belle

“We’ll keep Matt Sutton in goals for tomorrow’s game. I think he’s done well in this short period while Tommy’s been out.

“We’ve been happy with Tommy as well, but we believe Sutton deserves his opportunity. He’s looked comfortable in goals and we’ve been getting good results.”

On the boost that Daniel Penha’s form continues to give the team

“It’s ours, we’re home. We’re in the West, that’s the most important thing – we can start to build now.

“For me, it feels like the start of a new chapter and a new beginning for the Club. It wasn’t easy having to travel to watch us play.

“We thank the supporters that have travelled to a lot of different places, and now that we’re in one place I hope that we can build that support even more.”