Western United Isuzu UTE A-League Men Head Coach John Aloisi heaped praise on the young players that made an impact for the Green and Black in Wednesday night’s Australia Cup Round of 16 victory over Gold Coast Knights.
After signing his first scholarship contract at the Club during the week, Matthew Grimaldi scored the clinching goal in the 2-0 win following Oliver Lavale’s dramatic opener with both teenagers capping their senior debuts in style.
Speaking after the result, Aloisi was brimming with pride as the youngsters stole the show to send United to the Australia Cup Quarter-Finals for the first time.
“The younger players did well tonight, they were good for us. Oli Lavale worked really hard and got his goal in the end, and you also had Max Bisetto who came on and Matthew Grimaldi who has been our standout player in the NPL this season,” he said.
“They gave us energy when they came on, we started to win balls in good areas and when we moved the ball quickly, they caused problems.”
Bisetto had made his debut in the Round of 32 against Edgeworth Eagles and would have had a maiden goal of his own but for a goal line clearance that denied him.
That trio, along with Jake Najdovski, has represented the Western United Academy in the Australia Cup so far with Aloisi and the first-team staff handing opportunities to the Club’s talented youngsters.
On Lavale specifically, Aloisi hailed it as a special moment for the 18-year-old who has progressed from supporting the team in the stands to wearing the badge on the pitch.
“It’s a great story because it shows he’s a supporter of the club from when it first started. I’ve been following him now for a few seasons. He can play all over the place, he plays in midfield, out wide, as a striker or as a 10, and you know what you’re going to get from him – he’s going to work,” he said.
“He knows he’s still got a lot to learn and we’re here to help him with that. He was in the stands celebrating the Grand Final win, and I remember seeing that photo probably about six months ago.
“To see him out here tonight – it’s not the reason why I selected him, the reason is because he’s been performing well.”
Overall, Aloisi was pleased with how his players responded to a difficult test against a Gold Coast Knights side that threw everything into the contest.
The boss admitted that the players approached this fixture battling fatigue after the most difficult block of pre-season training.
While the objective continues to be preparing for the October 21 opener to the Isuzu UTE A-League season, Aloisi said the incentive of a trophy and qualification for continental football is ensuring the squad remains motivated to achieve as much success as possible in the competition.
The Club’s first ever quarter-final will come against Sydney FC with a spot in the final four on the line as the Green and Black chases another piece of silverware.
Before that, though, Aloisi will take on his brother Ross for the first time in a pre-season friendly against Brisbane Roar on Saturday.
The boss is looking forward to locking horns with his brother in a ‘friendly’, but first and foremost is eager for his players to get another opportunity to play in pre-season.
“I’ve been speaking to Ross during the week, they’ve started their pre-season well with some good results and performances, and they’re also in the quarter finals. He’s enjoying now being the head coach and not being an assistant,” he said.
I think it’ll be a friendly derby between us two at the moment. We’ll wait and see when the season comes around.
“We’re looking forward to it, it’s another good game for us, some of the players that didn’t play tonight will play more minutes, some of the younger players will get even more game time.”