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ALM Match Report: Western United 2-0 Newcastle Jets

Noah Botic Western United

Western United scored a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men on Saturday, picking up three points and a first clean sheet of the season.

An electric start had the hosts in the lead inside the first 10 minutes when Daniel Penha won and then converted a penalty with glorious impudence, dinking the ball nonchalantly into the net.

Tom Heward-Belle put in a superb display to keep Newcastle at bay and Noah Botic took advantage with United’s second goal soon after half-time, a lovely header from Josh Risdon’s pinpoint cross.

The only sour note of the game was a late red card to James Donachie, but United was able to manage the end of the game and secure a morale-boosting win.

Western United Team News

John Aloisi made two alterations to the starting XI with two Western United Academy products being called into the side.

Charbel Shamoon made his first professional start at right-back and Matthew Grimaldi returned for his second start on the left-hand side of midfield.

Luke Vickery was one of four teenagers named on the bench, featuring in an Isuzu UTE A-League matchday squad for the first time. Overall, United’s substitutes had an average age of 22.

First Half

Western United looked to settle quickly into the game, getting the ball on the floor and zipping across the AAMI Park turf.

The game’s first chance fell to Grimaldi after Lachie Wales picked him out on the break with a lovely outside-of-the-foot pass, but the youngster’s effort flashed into the side-netting.

United was on point in possession and put together a string of gorgeous bits of build-up play, introducing Wales repeatedly down the right-hand side. Another ball in from him picked out Botic but Newcastle were able to clear.

The Jets got forward right on the back of their defensive work with the pace of Trent Buhagiar beating Imai, but Heward-Belle was ready on his line to make a comfortable save.

It was an end-to-end opening quarter hour but United was rewarded as the more explosive of the two sides with the opening goal.

Once again it was a glorious piece of build-up play that created it, getting Wales on the ball who cut it back for Penha to strike straight into the arm of a Newcastle defender.

Penha assumed responsibility from the resultant penalty and made the chance count, clipping a sumptuous Panenka into the back of the net as Ryan Scott dived to his left.

It was a high-octane half from start to finish and Newcastle remained a threat going forward with Buhagiar the main protagonist with his straight-line running in the channels.

The Jets attacker had two chances in as many minutes but was met by a wall in the form of Heward-Belle who made two excellent saves, particularly on the second occasion where he reacted sharply to push away Buhagiar’s headed effort.

That was United’s cue to spring up the other end, spreading the ball out wide to Grimaldi on the left win who sized up his man before cutting inside and bending a strike towards the far corner, but Scott saw it coming and leapt to parry the ball away.

Grimaldi forced Scott into another top save on the stroke of half-time as United ended the half with the same enthusiasm shown from the very beginning.

Second Half

The entertainment picked up from kick-off in the second half with both sides looking to get forward and find a second goal in the game.

Newcastle had a period where they had United penned inside its own penalty area but Shamoon found an excellent outlet pass to Penha to get the team going forwards again.

After some patient play in the final third, the ball eventually reached Risdon who cut inside from the left wing and whipped an excellent delivery into Botic at the back post.

The striker did the rest with a powerful leap and a beautifully calculated header that looped back over Scott’s head and into the net.

The Jets nearly pulled one back straight away when Daniel Stynes scored from close range but Apostolos Stamatelopoulos was offside in the build-up and the assistant referee promptly raised his flag.

With the two-goal cushion, United was able to manage the game and close the spaces that Newcastle were able to exploit on the counter.

Heward-Belle was called into action again – of course to deny Buhagiar – but United was largely comfortable across the last half an hour.

Vickery came on for his debut and got himself involved frequently, running down the right-hand side and linking up with his teammates.

Luke Vickery became the ninth player to make his pro debut out of the Western United Academy this season

Aloisi’s hopes for a relaxing end to the game were left unfulfilled when Donachie was shown a straight red card. The whistle had already gone for a previous foul when Donachie challenged Brandon O’Neill late, and the VAR upgraded the original decision of a yellow card to a red one.

Despite that scare, United appeared unbothered until two Newcastle corners in injury time highlighted the side’s desperation to hold onto a first clean sheet of the season.

Risdon made an outstanding, athletic goal-line clearance to deny one effort while Heward-Belle rounded out his man-of-the-match display with one final save from a Stamatelopoulos header to complete the shutout and a fantastic night at AAMI Park.