ALM Match Preview: Central Coast Mariners vs Western United

Western United A-League Men

Western United hits the road in search of a big win against Central Coast Mariners in Round 7 of the Isuzu UTE A-League Men season.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 7

Central Coast Mariners vs Western United

Friday, 8 December

Kick-off: 7:45pm AEDT

Industree Group Stadium, Gosford

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+

Team News

John Aloisi has named an unchanged 20-man extended squad for the trip to the Central Coast, keeping the faith in his playing group.

The players have performed well over the past month but just haven’t been able to get the results over the line, and Aloisi will get behind his squad with confidence of greener pastures.

Aloisi told the media in his pre-match press conference that James Donachie has come through his first week of full training with the team, while the boss also shared the pleasing progress of Rhys Bozinovski in training.

Western United squad: 1. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Ramy NAJJARINE, 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, 27. Jacob TRATT, 32. Angus THURGATE, 33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 38. Noah BOTIC, 39. Matthew GRIMALDI, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 77. Riku DANZAKI

Full Western United squad

Last time out

Western United’s luckless run continued last week with another top performance that didn’t bring the rewards it deserved.

A late goal gave Wellington Phoenix a 1-0 win over United in Ballarat, but the Green and Black will once again carry confidence that a win is around the corner when heading to Gosford.

Previous Meetings

After an initial period of strong form in these matchups, United has since had difficulty in overcoming the Mariners.

After winning three of the first five meetings, United has failed to beat Central Coast in any of the following fixtures, including a trio of defeats in a row.

Aloisi will be hoping his former home will be kind to him on this occasion as United seeks a first ever away win against the Mariners.

Key Matchup: Tom Heward-Belle vs Danny Vukovic

Goalkeepers could be vital at each end of the pitch in this game and could make the difference for their respective sides in securing the win.

Tom Heward-Belle will return to the place where he made his professional debut as a teenager and look to impress his former employers.

Despite the tough run of results, Heward-Belle has been in fine form after joining Western United in the off-season and will be longing for a maiden clean sheet and win for the Green and Black.

The athletic young shot stopper will hope to outshine a seasoned veteran at the other end with Danny Vukovic still performing at a high level at 38 years of age.

Captaining Central Coast to the Championship last year, Vukovic remains one of the league’s best shot stoppers and he will be eager to perform in front of his home crowd.

If Heward-Belle can keep out a Mariners outfit that has the second lowest strike rate this season, then he will be hoping the forwards can do the rest in winning the game for the Green and Black.

Player to Watch: Angus Thurgate

Angus Thurgate had arguably the best game of his young Western United career last week, oozing confidence and quality in midfield.

Consistently able to find the ball in space and cycle possession forward, Thurgate was in the thick of all the action and gave United fans a clear demonstration of the quality he possesses.

As a boyhood Newcastle Jets player, Thurgate may well even have some extra motivation to perform against their F3 rivals and pick up another win against the Mariners.

Looking to get more involved in the final third and continuing to dominate the midfield, Thurgate will be up for the contest and desperate to help secure his first win as a Western United player.

Words from John Aloisi

On the persistence of the group and keeping the belief

“Sometimes in life you don’t get what you deserve, and it’s the same in football. Everyone has seen in the last four games that we deserved a lot more out of those four games.

“But we haven’t got it, and we just have to keep on working hard and improving, and that’s what we’re doing.”

On the impact of team culture in keeping positivity through difficult period

“It’s what we’re building as a club. I got brought into the club to change things, to build something and to build a culture.

“It’s easy to say about culture when you’re winning, and it’s hard to say about culture when you’re losing. I know we’re building something special because we’ve got a group that is all together – not just the playing group, the coaching staff, people in the club, in the office. I know this will make the Club stronger.”