United fight back to stun Bulls in ALM homecoming

Western United coach John Aloisi says that the intimate surrounds of his side’s new home at the Wyndham Regional Football Facility in Tarneit played a significant role in fuelling their come-from-behind 4-2 win over Macarthur FC.

Finally ending a much-criticised, nomadic five-year existence that has seen them play home games across Melbourne's west, regional Victoria and even Tasmania, Saturday marked the first A-League Men fixture that United have staged at their training base.

3045 in attendance to mark their first men’s game, the rectangular venue will become United’s permanent home until their proposed boutique stadium is built, which the club is targeting for the 2026-27 season.

And though initially stunned into silence by first half goals from the Bulls’ Valere Germain and Ulises Davila, the home crowd found its voice as goals from Riku Danzaki, Matthew Grimaldi and a brace from Michael Ruhs sparked a remarkable turnaround in just 21 second-half minutes.

Aloisi says he wasn’t surprised at the comeback, both because of the volume of chances he felt his side was creating and the buoyant effects of a new home. 

"Having 3000 people in a small stadium like this, it gives the boys energy," he said.

"I know how important having a crowd with you and having a rectangular stadium that’s yours, how much of a lift that can give players.

"The reason why we scored four is because we scored one, the crowd lifts, score another one, crowd lifts again; and then all of a sudden, you can't stop us."

But while it ended well enough, the day had a sour note for United, with Daniel Penha limping off just before halftime and James Donachie and Nikita Rukavytsya both forced to withdraw late in the game.

Though confident that Donachie should be fine, Aloisi said that Penha had been suffering from inflammation in his pubic region and would need to be assessed further and that Rukavytsya would likely be lost for the remainder of the season with a quad injury.

The result lifted Western (22 points) off the foot of the ladder and above Perth (22) and Newcastle (21), while Macarthur remain fifth on 35 points.

Valere Germain.
Valere Germain slots home the opening goal of the game from the penalty spot.

After initially looking like his side was going to spoil the homecoming, Bulls coach Mile Sterjovski was left to ponder where it all went wrong for his side.

"I feel like we just got complacent," he said.

"After we scored a second goal, we started to switch off a little, the mentality.

"We have the quality to beat anybody in the league but our mentality needs to be stronger."

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