ALM Match Report: Perth Glory 3-4 Western United

Abel Walatee Western United A-League Men

Western United secured a crazy 4-3 win over Perth Glory in the penultimate round of the Isuzu UTE A-League Men on Sunday evening.

It was a game that had just about everything and ended with special moments for the Green and Black as three Western United Academy graduates got their names on the scoresheet.

Matthew Grimaldi kicked proceedings off with the opening goal inside four minutes but Adam Taggart struck twice as Perth bounced back to take the lead early on in the second half.

Riku Danzaki then hauled United level with a superb long-range strike in the 65th minute, setting up a dramatic conclusion to the game.

Western United’s youngsters stole the show in the closing stages as Abel Walatee and Oliver Lavale came off the bench to score their first Isuzu UTE A-League goals.

There was time for more late drama as David Williams pulled a goal back for Perth in stoppage time but the three points belonged to Western United, ensuring the side will avoid finishing the season at the bottom of the table.

Western United Team News

John Aloisi was forced into a chance at right-back as Khoder Kaddour came out of the side following his ACL injury in Tuesday night’s draw with Adelaide United.

That allowed Charbel Shamoon to return to the side in his place, with the Western United Academy ace coming in for his fifth top-flight appearance of the season.

There was also an alteration in midfield as Steven Lustica replaced Sebastian Pasquali, while the bench featured youngsters Walatee, Lavale and Jake Najdovski.

First Half

It was a lovely goal from Grimaldi that gave United the lead, starting with Angus Thurgate spreading the play to Shamoon on the right.

The young full-back galloped into the attacking half and found Wales who cut inside and played a glorious reverse pass to Grimaldi who lifted the ball over Oliver Sail and into the net with a lovely first-time finish.

United was in control in the early goings but Perth began to creep into the game, edging further forward and testing Tom Heward-Belle with a couple of sights on goal.

Those sights eventually bore fruit for the hosts as John Koutroumbis found space to cross from the right-hand side, picking out Taggart who powered a header into the back of the net.

Despite that disappointment, United went up the other end and should have wrestled the lead straight back. After some excellent work by Thurgate and Grimaldi, the latter picked out Michael Ruhs with a cut-back in front of goal but the No.9 couldn’t make a clean connection and the ball trickled towards a Perth defender on the goal line.

It was a rather open first half with neither side really in control in possession but showing their qualities when able to enter the final third.

Heward-Belle made a terrific stop to deny Stefan Colakovski after he had made his way into the box and Riku Danzaki had an even bigger chance minutes later.

After Wales fed him with a delightful through ball, the Japanese winger ran into a one-on-one with Sail but toe-poked his shot wide of the left-hand post.

Second Half

Perth exploded out of the interval, nearly taking the lead within seconds but for a crucial intervention by Ben Garuccio to stop Giordano Colli’s cut-back from finding Taggart.

The Perth captain wasn’t to be denied for too long, though, pouncing on some indecision at the back from Tomoki Imai to score from point blank range.

Western United appeared to be on the back foot as the hosts pushed on, thinking they had a third when David Williams found the bottom corner. The whistle was blown for a foul on Shamoon in the build-up, though, and the goal was ruled out.

When Aloisi’s side needed someone to stand up, Danzaki emerged to find the crucial equaliser just after the hour mark.

It was thanks to some lovely set up work by Ruhs after United won the ball back, with the No.9 teeing up Danzaki to thump his shot along the ground and into the bottom right corner.

Back on level terms, United made a double change as Najdovski and Walatee came off the bench to inject energy into the final third.

The pair had an instant impact as the Green and Black remained on the front foot, and Walatee capped his introduction off with a special moment.

Thurgate helped create it again, freeing Walatee on the left wing and the 20-year-old did the rest, taking it in his stride and blasting it across the face of goal and into the net via the right-hand post, recording his first professional goal in just his second appearance for Western United.

United suddenly had a lead to protect in the final 15 minutes and controlled the majority of the remaining action, seemingly clinching the win in added time.

With Najdovski and Walatee impressing, Lavale came off the bench to have an impact of his own, robbing Colli at the top of the box and finishing expertly from outside the area.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, as Williams got his goal for Perth after pouncing on a Western United turnover.

United ensured that goal was a case of too little, too late for the home side and saw to it that the three points would go nowhere else but back to the west of Melbourne.