Match Preview: Western United v Wanderers

The Western Sydney Wanderers will look to put an end to their inconsistent run of form when they travel to Tasmania to take on Western United on Saturday afternoon.

They come into the match off the back of a disappointing home defeat against the Perth Glory, where they fell short of a comeback despite a 96th minute goal from a corner.

It was a frustrating result for the Red and Black, especially as they had put in a strong performance the week before when they defeated last season’s minor premiers Melbourne City.

They will hope for a swift return to winning ways against Western United, who are currently bottom of the table with just two wins all season.

It has been a difficult season for John Aloisi’s side, who after an opening round win over Melbourne City, fell straight back to earth when they took on the Wanderers in Parramatta.

In one of the best first half performances in the club’s history, the Wanderers scored five goals, including a double for former United attacker Nicolas Milanovic, to help them equal their biggest win in club history.

Western United have lost nine of their last 11 matches in the league so far this season, with their only other win coming against the Brisbane Roar thanks to a late comeback.

They did have something of a positive result in their last match, fighting for an entertaining 3-3 draw against 5th placed Macarthur during Unite Round, with star attacker Daniel Penha netting a double.

With 27 shots and 57{819c2379e1bc88268fde798c7aa32b743f8d32f67923d1a9052292ac476d8479} possession, United were arguably unlucky not to get all three points, but they are at the stage of the season where they need to turn draws into wins if they are to make a late charge to the finals.

Despite the defeat against Perth, coach Marko Rudan will be pleased with the performance of the younger players in the side in recent weeks, with the likes of Oscar Priestman, Alex Badolato and Aidan Simmons all impressing in their recent runs in the starting eleven.

Priestman in particular has been something of a revelation in midfield, being an energetic and dynamic presence as he replaces the currently injured Jorrit Hendrix; Daniel Margush has also deputised well for Socceroo Lawrence Thomas, pulling off a number of key saves against the Glory.

The Wanderers still sit in third spot on the table, ahead of Central Coast and Macarthur on goal difference and four points behind Wellington and the Melbourne Victory who are joint top, a win could cut the gap to just a single point.

The Wanderers still have the best defensive record in the league, only conceding 14 goals in 13 games, and have recorded six clean sheets so far in the season, though they will want to increase their goal scoring numbers, as they have fallen slightly in recent weeks.

The return of Milos Ninkovic to fitness will be a big boost to these chances; the Serbian maestro has struggled with injury so far this season but played 30 minutes off the bench against the Glory, and the side will benefit from his vision, technique and ability to control and change the game with great pieces of lay, especially in the absence of Hendrix.

With Brandon Borrello still recovering from his long-term injury, Milanovic and Marcus Antonsson will need to take initiative and stamp their footprint on the game on Saturday, and they will fancy themselves to do the job again against a defence they dominated back in Round two.