NPL pre-season continues with senior players involved in friendly matches

Rhys Bozinovski Western United

Western United’s NPL 3 team is continuing its preparation for the return of the season next month with a number of pre-season friendly matches.

Academy Director and Senior NPL Head Coach Anthony Frost has been hard at work with his staff and over 70 players that have come through the system throughout the trial and training period, with squads on the brink of being finalised for the Senior’s and Under 21’s sides.

READ MORE: Western United Women’s Development Squad returns for 2022

A first friendly opportunity came against a Football Empowerment select XI last month, with United claiming a 4-1 victory in that match.

That was been followed by a glut of goals in subsequent practice games, with a 6-1 win over Caroline Springs George Cross FC and a 7-0 triumph against Eastern Lions last Saturday.

The Eastern match featured a number of A-League Men scholarship players who were able to gain some valuable minutes and perform with the youth side.

Adisu Bayew took part in the contest and netted a hat-trick while there were also goal-scoring performances for Ben Collins and Luke Duzel. Noah Botic and Dalibor Markovic were also involved in the match.

Importantly, the encounter saw a return to match action for Rhys Bozinovski, who also bagged a goal in a 30-minute cameo having recovered from an injury sustained in November. Nathan Dib added the final goal of the match.

Rene Krhin earned some valuable minutes with Western United’s youth team

United’s Under 21’s side then faced off against South Melbourne on Tuesday night, with a 3-1 win and more opportunities for A-League Men players to work their way up to match fitness.

Rene Krhin, Christian Theoharous, Jerry Skotadis and Nicolas Milanovic all played 45 minutes in the match, with Krhin managing to get himself on the scoresheet.

Frost said he was delighted with the impact, maturity and commitment that all the A-League Men players showed in the matches over the week and said it has also given his NPL players a great experience to learn from.

“It was a good opportunity for them to get some minutes under their belt, for some in particular to make sure that they’re prepared physically when they’re called upon by John and his staff,” he said.

“Senior players when they do come down, they set an example and they very much take on a leadership role, which I was pleased that they were able to do.

“I spoke to the players and reinforced that it was a really good opportunity for younger players to get an understanding of where they sit, how they compare or match up against some of the more senior players.

“It was a great opportunity to learn from those players, how they prepare, how they perform on the pitch.”

Western United’s next friendly will take place on Saturday, February 19 against North Geelong Warriors at Elcho Park, with the Under 21’s kicking off at 12pm followed by the Senior’s at 2pm.

The season proper gets started on Sunday, March 20, with Western United’s first match against Nunawading at City Vista Recreation Reserve.