Western United is at the coalface of the Isuzu UTE A-League Men Finals race and will be out to equal a Club record against Brisbane Roar this weekend.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 21
Brisbane Roar vs Western United
Saturday, 18 March
Kick-off: 5:00pm AEDT (4:00pm local)
Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+
John Aloisi has named an unchanged extended 20-man squad from last week, meaning Connor Pain could be in line to reach a special milestone for Western United.
The No.11 will become the first player to reach 100 Isuzu UTE A-League appearances for United if he features against the Roar on Saturday.
Noah Botic and Aleksandar Prijovic will both be out to continue their goal-scoring form, while Steven Lustica will be eager for more minutes against his former side.
Western United squad: 1. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 4. Leo LACROIX, 5. Dylan PIERIAS, 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Tongo DOUMBIA, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 10. Steven LUSTICA, 11. Connor PAIN, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 23. Alessandro DIAMANTI (c), 27. Jacob TRATT, 31. Adisu BAYEW, 37. Ryan SCOTT (gk) 38. Noah BOTIC, 44. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88. Neil KILKENNY, 99. Aleksandar PRIJOVIC
Last time out
Western United made it three in a row in the Isuzu UTE A-League with a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory on Monday.
Botic gave United the lead just ahead of half-time before Bruno Fornaroli equalised immediately after it, but Prijovic had the final say with the winner 20 minutes from time.
That win sets United up for the chance to equal a Club record with a fourth straight league win, a run that was achieved twice last season.
United controls the head-to-head record against Brisbane with five wins to Brisbane’s two over the eight previous meetings.
A 1-1 draw earlier this season was the first tie between the two sides and meant United remained unbeaten against Brisbane for a third straight game after winning both meetings last season.
Key Matchup: Noah Botic vs Tom Aldred
This mixture could see a clash of youth versus experience in the United final third with Botic set to go up against seasoned defender Tom Aldred.
Having scored in three matches in a row, Botic can match Besart Berisha’s record of scoring in four consecutive games for Western United. Berisha found the net in each of the final four fixtures of the 2019/20 regular season.
Botic will face a difficult task against Aldred and Brisbane’s defence, though, with only Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City conceding less than the Roar this season.
Scott Neville will miss the clash due to suspension, so Aldred could be the one tasked with stopping United’s rampant No.38 from getting his name on another scoresheet.
Player to Watch: Connor Pain
A foundation player at Western United, Pain will set a special milestone in Green and Black this weekend in his 100th league appearance for the Club.
Pain has been an integral part of United’s development as a football club, patrolling the left-wing on the pitch and leading the group off it.
It is only fitting that his 100th game should come against Brisbane, an opponent against whom he has scored the most goals in his career – including a spectacular volley last season.
Pain will be eager to make it an occasion to remember with a top performance and three points to bring home along with his place in the history books.
What John Aloisi is saying
On the influence of Connor Pain and his achievement in reaching 100 appearances for the Club
“He’s an important part of not only our team, but our Club, because he’s been here since day one. It’s an achievement, for anyone to play 100 games at one club.
“I think he’s probably playing some of the best football that he’s played. He had a really good season last season, this season he’s already set up six goals, so he’s in really good form.”
On whether there will be a change of approach with starting two strikers up front
“It doesn’t really change the approach. When you do get into the final third, you still want to get as many numbers in the box as possible.
“Depending on the personnel we have – at the back, do your full-backs get forward? Can your wingers come inside? Then you can play without a real No.10, or if you play with a No.10 then your winger might stay wider. It depends on who you have available and what you’re trying to achieve in each game. The actual approach doesn’t change from us.”