Western United will be playing for promotion to NPL 2 on Saturday afternoon, taking on Goulburn Valley Suns in the biggest match for the Academy to date.
Goulburn Valley Suns vs Western United
Saturday, 27 August
Kick-off: 2:00pm AEST
Valley Park Events Centre, Meadow Heights
Entry: Entry is $15 for adults and $10 for concessions.
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live on NPL.tv.
Road to the play-offs
United booked its place in the promotion play-offs on the final day of the NPL 3 regular season, defeating Geelong SC 4-1 last weekend.
That result coupled with Melbourne Victory’s 1-0 loss to Nunawading City elevated United into third place on the league table, meaning Goulburn would be its play-off opponent.
Anthony Frost’s men got off to the perfect start in the season, winning each of the first three matches including a thrilling 2-1 triumph over Melbourne City.
A run of four wins and a draw across five matches in May and June had the Green and Black pushing at the top of the table, but four losses in the next six saw the side fall behind Melbourne City and Preston Lions in the top two.
That set up a huge final three weeks of the campaign, where United ensured it would play for promotion with two wins and a remarkable 3-3 draw with North Sunshine Eagles, with two goals in injury time salvaging a point.
Goulburn earned a point in their first match of the season with a solid 0-0 draw against Manningham United, but the season quickly became a struggle for the Shepparton club.
A 4-2 loss to Brunswick City in the final match of the regular season meant Goulburn had gone through the entire campaign without a win, ending the season with four draws and 18 defeats.
Players to watch
Western United has seen a number of Academy stars break into Frost’s side this year, and they will be eager to step up when it counts on Saturday afternoon.
Captain Jalil Regague has enjoyed a superb season at centre-back and was recently rewarded with a senior debut in United’s FFA Cup Round of 16 clash against Sydney United.
Charbel Shamoon has also been a key player at right-back and has been training with John Aloisi’s A-League Men squad for the bulk of this calendar year.
Noah Holmes and Jordan Lauton have formed an excellent partnership in midfield and have been involved in the A-League Men pre-season in recent weeks, while top scorer Sabit Ngor will look to build on his 11 goals in the regular season.
After signing his first A-League Men scholarship contract in July, Jake Najdovski made his return from injury last week and will be hoping to play a part on Saturday as well.
What Anthony Frost is saying
On what promotion would mean to the Club’s Academy in just its second year
“Promotion would mean for us an opportunity to ensure that the gap between playing in the Academy and then the A-League is a lot shorter. I think being another step closer helps us in our preparation and our opportunity to stretch and challenge our players the best possible way we can.”
On seeing Western United fans support the next generation of stars in the West
“It’s a great opportunity for those fans to come and have a look at the future of the Club. It’s exciting that we’ve got young players coming through and progressing through the Club. We appreciate all their support and would encourage everyone to get down and be vocal, get the Green and Black on and cheer on the Club.”