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John Aloisi on performance, Wenzel-Halls and defensive partnership after Melbourne City win

John Aloisi Western United vs Melbourne City

Western United Head Coach John Aloisi was delighted with the side’s 1-0 win over Melbourne City on Saturday night, admitting “it feels like we’re on the right track”.

A blistering breakaway goal from Dylan Wenzel-Halls in the first half secured the win, along with some staunch rear-guard action from United’s defence.

Post-match, Aloisi gave his thoughts on the team’s performance and what the win means for the players as well as some standout individual displays.

On the performance as a whole

We knew it was going to be hard, because City are obviously one of the best teams in the comp. We thought that if we worked well together – and we did, we fought hard, we were organised defensively – that we would make it tough for them. And then with the ball, if we were calm and confident on the ball, we’d be able to hurt them. It’s difficult against City because they play a high line, so they can win the ball back pretty quickly. But if you get them, you can actually hurt them and get them on the counter attack. It’s not like we want to play counter-attacking football, but occasionally when you play against a team like that they make you play a little bit like that. I thought we created some good openings, Dylan took his goal well and in the end, I thought it was a very good performance, especially how hard the boys worked.

On what the win means to the squad

It’s nice to win. It’s also very nice to win a derby game. You saw our supporters after, how excited they were, and our players – because it’s been tough for them over a period. So, it feels like we’re on the right track. There’s a lot of improving to do, and we will improve a lot more, so that’s the positive. We know that we need to pick up points now because we’ll get stronger as the season goes on, we’ve still got players to come in, the players that are starting are doing well and we know that we’ll get better as the season goes on, so that’s a positive. The biggest thing for me is, our football will get better with the ball, but defensively Western United conceded a lot of goals last year. We haven’t conceded from open play in the four games we’ve played, so that’s a massive plus. And people talk about the four, about the goalkeeper – it’s the whole team. It’s from the front. You saw Diamanti chasing, fighting, closing down. If he’s doing it, that just sets the tone for everyone else to do it.

On Dylan Wenzel-Halls’ role defensively as well as being a goal threat

Dylan was tremendous. We worked a lot with Dylan in pre-season, because it was something that he needed to improve on in his game (ability to press and assist defensively). We know how good he is in front of goal, and what he can do and finish, and so in pre-season we worked with him in terms of when to go, what triggers that he needs to go on, when he needs to drop in and be compact again. I thought that he was outstanding. He’s a pain for a defender, and that’s what you want from your striker.

On the performances of Leo Lacroix and Tomoki Imai

He’s (Lacroix) a presence. We spoke about how much of a presence that he will be before he started playing, people asked what type of player is he. I said he’s a defender that’s got a presence on the field, and not only without the ball he defends and puts his body on the line, with the ball he’s got a calmness, so he wins the ball and he’s able to travel with it if he has to or pick out a pass. That goes a long way because that relieves pressure when you’re defending for a long period. He was good, and Tomoki was great as well. Because, you know, I took Tomoki off at half-time last week. That showed good character that he ended up performing like he did. Very pleased for those two, but pleased for the whole time.

On Adisu Bayew’s cameo off the bench

Good. Really good. He works, Adisu. I don’t want to get into it, but I was disappointed they (Bayew, Luke Duzel, Noah Botic) had to go away with the (Australian) Under 23’s for that long period. It set him back, because in pre-season he actually started against City in our first hit out and did really well. I’m so happy that he got another opportunity now, he’s started to find his rhythm again in training and getting better. So, he did well when he came on, Dylan Pierias did well when he came on as well, he worked hard, and we know the quality he has going forward.