Western United plays out friendly draw against Melbourne City

Western United and Melbourne City have played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in a friendly at Casey Fields on Monday.

Starting XI: 1. Jamie Young, 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.

Second half XI: 30. Ryan Scott, 5. Dylan Pierias, 12. Dalibor Markovic, 13. Sabit James, 21. James Doyle, 26. Nicolas Milanovic, 27. Jerry Skotadis, 29. Christian Theoharous, 36. Ajak Deu, 42. Rhys Bozinovski.

The two sides fielded close to first strength 11’s in the first half, with the reigning A-League Men champions impressing with their ability to control the ball and tempo of the game.

Jamie Young was called into action early on to make a close range save from Jamie Maclaren, but he couldn’t keep Maclaren’s fellow Socceroos teammate Mathew Leckie from opening the scoring in the 21st minute, nodding in an Andrew Nabbout cross.

Western grew into the game after the goal, looking to make the most of the pace of its front three of Connor Pain, Lachie Wales and Dylan Wenzel-Halls, who were all threatening on the counter.

Ben Garuccio provided an extra attacking outlet down the left flank, while Josh Risdon was solid defensively against both Nabbout and Leckie.

John Aloisi made 11 changes at the break, as a host of young players were given a chance to impress.

But it was experienced defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley who drew the visitors level, stooping low to flick on Dalibor Markovic’s in-swinging corner in the 51st minute.

Dylan Pierias was a constant threat down the right-hand side, with his work rate creating plenty of opportunities.

Pierias went closest to putting United ahead, drawing a top save from City’s keeper with a curling left-footed effort.

Young midfielders Rhys Bozinovski, Jerry Skotadis and Nicolas Milanovic all held their own, with Bozinovski fashioning a number of chances from through balls, while Skodatis provided steel as the anchor, making a crucial block late on.

Ryan Scott was impressive in goal, making a number of important saves to keep the scores level.

There was plenty of heat in the clash for a friendly, with Aiden O’Neill and Nathaniel Atkinson both receiving bookings for late challenges.

The two sides will meet again in a closed-door friendly at GMBHA Stadium on Friday afternoon.