Western United returns to Ballarat for the first time this season, taking on Newcastle Jets at Mars Stadium on Sunday.
Isuzu UTE A-League Men Round 12
Western United vs Newcastle Jets
Sunday, 15 January
Kick-off: 5:00pm AEDT
Mars Stadium, Ballarat
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on Paramount+
John Aloisi will be without Ben Garuccio for this fixture after he suffered a calf injury in last week’s defeat to Melbourne City.
The left-back will miss approximately six weeks of football, but Aloisi will be able to call upon the likes of Josh Risdon, Jacob Tratt and Tomoki Imai in the full-back positions.
Neil Kilkenny is set to reach an impressive milestone with this being his 150th appearance in the Isuzu UTE A-League if he is to feature.
Western United squad: 1. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 4. Leo LACROIX, 5. Dylan PIERIAS, 6. Tomoki IMAI, 7. Tongo DOUMBIA, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 11. Connor PAIN, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 23. Alessandro DIAMANTI (c), 26. Nicolas MILANOVIC, 27. Jacob TRATT, 31. Adisu BAYEW, 37. Ryan SCOTT (gk) 38. Noah BOTIC, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 44. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88. Neil KILKENNY, 99. Aleksandar PRIJOVIC
Last time out
Western United had a forgettable night last time out, losing 4-0 to Melbourne City at AAMI Park in last Saturday’s Grand Final rematch.
A flurry of goals inside the opening half hour decided the game, but United was much improved in the second half and will take confidence from that performance into this one against the Jets.
Western United has a strong record against Newcastle of late with four straight games unbeaten against the Jets, including three wins in that time.
One of those wins came at Mars Stadium last season when Leo Lacroix scored his first two goals for the Club in a 2-1 victory.
Overall, United leads the head-to-head record with three wins to two along with two draws. United also defeated Newcastle in December 2020 in an Australia Cup play-off tie.
Key Matchup: Tongo Doumbia vs Reno Piscopo
Tongo Doumbia will need to be on the top of his game to stifle the creative threat of Newcastle’s Reno Piscopo.
The Jets have failed to score in their last four losses and have scored the least goals in the league this season, level with Melbourne Victory, so stopping Piscopo from feeding chances to his forwards will go a long way to keeping Newcastle scoreless again.
Doumbia and the rest of the midfield and defence will be tasked with stopping the tricky 24-year-old and, if successful, could give the team a platform from which to take victory.
Player to Watch: Neil Kilkenny
Marking his 150th appearance in the competition, Kilkenny will be eager to make it one to remember by dominating the midfield and carrying his team to a positive result.
Kilkenny grabbed an assist the last time United faced Newcastle and will be vital for Aloisi’s side again, just as he has been all season.
United’s No.88 will be under the spotlight on his milestone day and he will do everything to ensure the match is remembered more for picking up three points than his own personal occasion.
Words from John Aloisi
On the reaction from the group and the importance of staying level after the City defeat
“It’s always disappointing to lose but you have to put that past you and then focus on the game ahead and the boys have done that, they’ve worked really well this week.
“We still take confidence out of the three games before the City loss. It’s always important to remain level and not to get too carried away with big results, and also results that don’t go your way. So we have to make sure we remain calm and we stick to the process.”
On getting back in front of the fans in Ballarat
“We’re really looking forward to it. We’ve had some really good results down in Ballarat. It’s good that the people come out and support us and the players love playing there in front of the support we get there.
“So I can’t wait for it for it, it’ll be a big game for us and we’re looking forward to not only putting on a good performance, we’re hoping to put on the exciting spectacle and win the game.”