Western United picked up its second straight victory in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men, defeating Perth Glory 2-1 at Mars Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Noah Botic continued his sizzling form with what proved to be a glorious winner just minutes after Tongo Doumbia had cancelled out Jordan Elsey’s early opener.
The win propels United to eighth on the table and ensures the Green and Black remains right in the mix for finals places with seven matches to play.
Western United had plenty of exciting team news within the matchday squad as Ben Garuccio returned to the starting line-up for the first time in almost two months.
There were three big inclusions on the bench with Steven Lustica, Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Aleksandar Prijovic all bolstering John Aloisi’s options in reserve.
Much of the opening stages of the game saw both sides trying to find a rhythm and gain the ascendancy in possession.
Perth gained the early momentum with the bulk of possession and territory as David Williams came close on a couple of occasions before Jordan Elsey gave them the lead in the 22nd minute, lashing home from close range after his initial header from a corner had been saved.
United almost responded immediately as James Troisi danced his way through traffic and in on goal but could only find the side netting with his shot. That would end up being one of the No.14’s final contributions as he was substituted with injury, replaced by Alessandro Diamanti.
The Green and Black continued to slowly build into the game and got on top towards the end of the half with a string of sweeping attacking moves and balls in behind Perth’s defence.
A five-minute spell right before the interval turned the game on its head as United seized control and ultimately equalised via a Tongo Doumbia header from Neil Kilkenny’s precise corner.
Diamanti made a strong impact off the bench and found Lachie Wales with a superb lofted through ball in the final minute of stoppage time.
Wales controlled the ball magnificently on the run and spun a cross towards Botic at the back post and the youngster did the rest, controlling the ball on his chest before thumping it past Cameron Cook to give United the lead right on half-time.
Perth came out of half-time looking to turn the momentum back around and chase a route back into the match, but United was able to keep the visitors largely at arms’ length.
That was until just after the hour mark when the Glory came agonisingly close to an equaliser after picking their way through United’s resistance.
A sharp one-two brought Salim Khelifi in eyeball to eyeball with Jamie Young but he could only fire his shot into the post before Young saved Jack Clisby’s follow up and Garuccio completed the defensive job with a clearing header.
Diamanti then very nearly bent a long-range effort into the corner of the net as he opened up to shoot on his left foot but couldn’t quite curl it inside the post.
Young was able to safely hold onto a headed effort from Adam Taggart as the visitors began to throw everything at a late equaliser.
A mixture of United’s staunch defence and its potency on the counter attack meant Perth were never truly able to sustain constant pressure on the hosts’ goal as the Green and Black held on for an important win.