It’s a big weekend for the Western United Academy as the NPL 3 sides prepare to take on Preston Lions on Friday night in one of the biggest games of the season.
Western United vs Preston Lions
Friday, 6 May
Kick-off: 6:15pm AEST (Under 21’s), 8:15pm AEST (Senior’s)
City Vista Recreation Reserve, Plumpton
Broadcast: Any fans unable to attend the match can tune in to a livestream on Preston Lions’ Facebook page
Last time out
Western United had a tough time of it last week against Melbourne Victory, with both sides tasting defeat in tight affairs.
The Under 21’s began the afternoon with a 3-1 loss, where Greg Siamoa continued his strong goal-scoring form in Green and Black with a fourth strike in seven games.
A 2-1 loss to the Senior’s followed that result. Yianni Panakos had headed Anthony Frost’s side in front just five minutes in but a first-half red card to goalkeeper Charlie Emery allowed Victory to engineer a comeback.
Despite the defeats, both the Under 21’s and the Senior’s remain in touch with the top of their respective leagues. The Under 21’s sit in third place while the Senior side is in fourth, though just one point behind Preston in second and three points off Melbourne City at the top.
Last season’s meetings
Western United and Preston were two of the top teams in NPL 3 in 2021, but the sides only got to face each other once before the season was suspended.
The Under 21’s were dealt a 3-0 defeat on the night before the Senior’s played an incredibly intense, entertaining match at BT Connor Reserve.
A 20th minute strike from Nicolas Milanovic cancelled out Terence Carter’s opener just minutes prior before Preston were reduced to 10 men with half an hour to play.
An extremely talented United side threw everything at finding a late winner but the match ultimately ended in a draw and one of the games of the season.
Preston Lions have been one of the strongest sides in NPL 3 since the beginning of 2021, and they are proving to be one of the main candidates for promotion once again.
Preston won their first three games but failed to win any of the next three before a 2-0 win over Whittlesea in their last game, taking them up to second place on the table.
Whether playing home or away, Preston brings a raucous crowd to each match to get behind the players and will be looking to continue in their bid for a long-awaited promotion to NPL 2.
Calder United’s grudge match with South Melbourne
Calder United will return home to Keilor Park Recreation Reserve for a grudge match against South Melbourne on Saturday.
It will be the first meeting between the sides for the Senior’s since Calder achieved a 3-0 win in the NIKE F.C. Cup Final in December last year.
Mark Torcaso’s senior women enjoyed a big win last weekend, trouncing Bayside United 6-0 to move into third place on the table.
South Melbourne were top of the league at the time of the season’s suspension last year but have failed to continue that form into this year, picking up just one point through the first four matches and sitting on the bottom of the league.
Calder’s Under 19’s won a third game in succession against Bayside, taking advantage of Alamein drawing to seize top spot in the competition.
The match against South Melbourne will be tightly contested with just one point separating Calder in first from South in third, with a win potentially vital for the Under 19’s side this season.