Western United enters the first of five big matches to conclude the Isuzu UTE A-League Men season, with a win over Sydney FC on Saturday set to propel the Green and Black into the top six.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 22
Sydney FC vs Western United
Saturday, 1 April
Kick-off: 7:45pm AEDT
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on 10Bold and Paramount+
John Aloisi will welcome Dylan Pierias back into his Western United team after the winger missed the last match due to illness.
The No.5 has returned to health and will be hoping to feature for what would be his 18th appearance of the season.
Noah Botic has returned from international duty and will hope to prove his availability while Ramy Najjarine could make his debut for the Club having been included in the extended squad for the first time since joining at the beginning of February.
Josh Risdon is suspended after picking up his eighth yellow card of the season, while Rhys Bozinovski is ruled out having picked up an injury after returning from the AFC U20 Asian Cup.
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, 20. Ramy NAJJARINE, 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
Full Western United squad
Last time out
Western United’s three-game winning run was arrested last time out with a 1-0 loss to the Roar at Kayo Stadium.
Jay O’Shea’s late winner gave the home side all three points, leaving United to get back to work over the international break and look to bounce back against Sydney.
Both sides have been neck and neck in the head-to-head battle in recent times, splitting the results since Aloisi took over at Western United.
After winning just one of the first four meetings, United has beaten Sydney twice over the last two campaigns while losing twice and drawing once.
The last meeting between the two teams had a memorable conclusion with Alessandro Diamanti’s incredible long-range chip clinching a 1-0 win for United in Hobart.
Key Matchup: Connor Pain vs Rhyan Grant
Fresh from becoming the first player to play 100 Isuzu UTE A-League matches for Western United Connor Pain will go up against Rhyan Grant in what looms as a key battle in this match.
Both vastly experienced competitors in Australian football, Pain and Grant will know each other well and will look to get the better of the other in a bid to give their team the momentum.
Pain has continued his ever-consistent form for United this season and his enjoying one of his best creative campaigns with six assists to his name.
United’s No.11 will be eager to lead his team after defeat in the last match and, if he can get the better of his opposite number in Grant, he could be key to helping the Green and Black secure three points.
Player to Watch: Ben Garuccio
Ben Garuccio has hit the ground running immediately after returning from injury and will be another key contributor to any potential success for Western United in this clash.
The left-back was at his all-action best against Melbourne Victory prior to the international break and will be eager to continue building form in the final five matches of the season.
His mix of creativity and defensive strength down the left-hand touchline will again prove pivotal for the Green and Black with Joe Lolley set to be lining up against him.
A top performance from Garuccio will often translate to a top performance from the team and the No.17 will be eying just that as United enters the crucial final weeks of the season.