Australia Cup rewind: New beginnings and derby wins

Western United A-League Men

Western United will enter its third Australia Cup campaign tonight, looking to build on the previous two outings in the competition.

Having missed the opportunity to compete in the cup competition due to COVID-19 through the first two years of existence, United will go in search of its greatest finish in the competition this time around.

Western United’s debut in the Australia Cup marked a new beginning for the Club as John Aloisi took charge of his first competitive match as head coach in a play-off fixture against Newcastle Jets in November 2021.

Alongside Aloisi, a number of United’s soon-to-be Isuzu UTE A-League Men Champions made their debuts on the pitch in a match that had a distinct Western United flavour at both ends.

Angus Thurgate thought he had given Newcastle the lead when his shot was half saved by Jamie Young before bouncing towards the goal line. Despite the Jets’ vigorous appeals, the goal was not given.

That opened up the chance for Lachie Wales to become United’s first ever Australia Cup goal scorer on the stroke of half-time, giving United a 1-0 lead.

Newcastle hit back in the second half, though, when a certain Brazilian attacking midfielder scored a goal to remember. One Daniel Penha stepped up to rifle a thunderous free-kick into the back of the net from long range.

The Green and Black would have the final say on the night when Aleksandar Prijovic capitalised on Jack Duncan’s error to roll the ball home into an empty net and send Western United into the Australia Cup proper for the first time.

With the Isuzu UTE A-League season underway, Aloisi then fielded a largely inexperienced team in the Round of 32 as United fell to Wellington Phoenix 1-0.

That was the beginning of a fairytale season for Western United, and Aloisi’s men approached the next Australia Cup campaign as Champions of Australia.

Moving straight into the Round of 32 on this occasion, United was drawn against rivals Melbourne Victory in a clash of league champions versus cup champions from the season before.

In a game of little chances, Lachie Wales stole the show with a teasing ball that George Timotheou turned into his own net and after Jake Brimmer scored a stunning equaliser, Wales wrapped up the win for United with a tap in from Ben Garuccio’s cross.

That led United into its first Round of 16 tie and despite a game full of chances, it was one of those days as Sydney United 58 won the day on penalties.

United hit the woodwork three times in the first half before eventually taking the lead through Connor Pain, only for Sydney United to equalise soon after half-time and go on to win the shootout.

Now, United will enter another new era as a Club, approaching its fifth season in the Isuzu UTE A-League and looking to go deep in the Australia Cup.