Western United heads to the Hunter region to round out 2023 in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men, taking on Newcastle Jets in Round 10.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 10
Newcastle Jets vs Western United
Saturday, 30 December
Kick-off: 5:30pm AEDT
McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+
John Aloisi will be without Josh Risdon for this clash with the Western United captain missing out due to suspension having received five yellow cards this season.
Aloisi has called upon three youngsters in his extended squad with Jake Najdovski, Oliver Lavale and Max Bisetto all included in the 20-man list.
Having each featured across United’s Australia Cup campaign, the trio will be eager to make their Isuzu UTE A-League debut and contribute for the team.
Western United squad: 1. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 6. Tomoki IMAI, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 10. Steven LUSTICA, 11. Daniel PENHA, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 22. Kane VIDMAR, 24. Connor O’TOOLE, 27. Jacob TRATT, 32. Angus THURGATE, 33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 35. Max BISETTO, 38. Noah BOTIC, 39. Matthew GRIMALDI, 41. Oliver LAVALE, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 49. Jake NAJDOVSKI, 77. Riku DANZAKI
Last time out
Looking to build on a win against Brisbane Roar, Western United fell to another unfortunate defeat after playing well last week, losing 4-2 to Sydney FC.
Angus Thurgate scored his first Western United goal and Matthew Grimaldi notched the first league goal of his young career, but the Sky Blues made good on their chances to claim the win.
Western United vs Newcastle Jets has been a tight affair historically, with neither team ever defeating the other by any more than two goals.
The Green and Black hold a narrow lead in the head-to-head battle with four wins to Newcastle’s three, along with three draws.
The Jets scored a smash-and-grab 1-0 win over United in the most recent meeting in November, while United will carry confidence from a 3-1 win the last time the side travelled to McDonald Jones Stadium.
Key Matchup: Tomoki Imai vs Apostolos Stamatelopoulos
In line to lead the team on the day in Risdon’s absence, Tomoki Imai will be out to put in one of his trademark defensively stout performances to help carry his team to victory.
Imai has been a constant for Aloisi all season so far, playing every minute and continuing to perform at a high level at the back.
The Japanese defender will come up against a former teammate and one of the league’s form strikers on Saturday with Apostolos Stamatelopoulos enjoying a purple patch in front of goal for the Jets.
The former United striker has scored seven goals this season, including one against the Green and Black and Imai and co. will be eager to stifle his impact on Saturday.
Player to Watch: Noah Botic
Noah Botic remains one of Australian football’s most exciting one prospects and while the goals haven’t been flowing in recent weeks, his overall forward play remains crucial to United’s game.
The youngster’s ability to hold up the ball and link up with his teammates has contributed to the Green and Black’s build-up play in and around the box, and the finishing touch is just around the corner for Botic.
The No.38 is continuing to work in training to develop his game and it is only a matter of time until he adds to his opening day goal against Melbourne City for this season.
Botic will carry good memories from his last trip to Newcastle where he scored twice in that aforementioned 3-1 victory, and he will be hoping for a repeat performance to get back among the goals and help United to victory.
Words from John Aloisi
On the team’s response in training during the week after the defeat against Sydney FC
“The response has been good coming into the week. We played really well against Brisbane and got the result we deserved, against Sydney we didn’t get the result that we deserved from the performance.
“We still know that in certain little moments we’re letting ourselves done, but we’re trying to rectify that and we’re working hard at rectifying that. The players have been making sure we try and stop those little moments not happening as often.”
On how pleased he has been with the impact from his substitutes in recent weeks
“I’m really pleased, that’s what we expect from our players coming in off the bench. Against Brisbane, the players that came in off the bench helped us go on to win the game, and then the ones that came in last week as well.
“Not only Matt Grimaldi, but also Rhys Bozinovski made a good impact, and Michael Ruhs who scored but it got disallowed. That’s what we’re expecting from our players that come on, to make really good impact and affect the game, which they are doing. As long as they keep improving on that side, the more minutes they will get.”