Western United has won its first ever FFA Cup match, advancing to the Round of 32 after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets.
There were five debutants named in John Aloisi’s first competitive starting XI for Western United, with a mix of youth and experience on the bench.
Jamie Young made his first outing in goal with Leo Lacroix and Ben Garuccio lining up in defence. Neil Kilkenny started in midfield with Dylan Wenzel-Halls starting up front.
Starting XI: 1. Jamie Young (GK), 4. Leo Lacroix, 6. Tomoki Imai, 8. Lachie Wales, 9. Dylan Wenzel-Halls, 10. Steven Lustica, 11. Connor Pain, 17. Ben Garuccio, 19. Josh Risdon, 23. Alessandro Diamanti (C), 88. Neil Kilkenny.
Wenzel-Halls looked sharp early in his first appearance, firing the first shot on target of the match inside the opening two minutes.
Newcastle began to assert themselves in the game, but some strong defensive work in the air from Ben Garuccio repelled any openings, with Olivier Boumal lively down Newcastle’s left.
With new coach Aloisi imparting his philosophy on the side, there was a clear emphasis on delivery from wide areas with both Garuccio and Josh Risdon getting forward well from their respective full-back positions.
Just after the half hour mark, a shot from Newcastle’s Angus Thurgate was partially saved by Jamie Young, leaving the Jets players and coaches incensed as they believed the ball crossed the line.
That inspired a surge of dominance from the visitors, with Young called upon on multiple occasions to keep the scores level.
Just as it looked like the sides would head into the interval locked at 0-0, Wales popped up to open the scoring for the home side, slotting into an empty net after an error from Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan.
An early second-half sighter from Wenzel-Halls forced Duncan into a good save, with United immediately getting on the front foot in search of a second goal.
A bolt from the blue saw the Jets level just after the hour, with Daniel Penha thundering in a free-kick from all of 30 yards.
Substitute Dylan Pierias thought he had United back in front in the 76th minute when he diverted Aleksandar Prijovic’s header into the back of the net. The United No.5 wheeled away in celebration, only to see the linesman raise his flag for offside.
But the Green and Black celebrations were put on hold for mere minutes as Prijovic latched onto a long ball from Diamanti and passed it into the net after Duncan missed his clearance.
Young pulled off a brilliant save from Boumal with five minutes to go, and the Cameroonian came close again minutes later as Newcastle piled on the pressure for a late equaliser.
And despite Prijovic having a chance to add a second, United held on to claim victory, booking a spot in the Round of 32 against Wellington Phoenix next month.