Spark missing as Western United enter free fall

Western United
Western United winger Josh Risdon worked hard without luck. (Luke Hemer

By Lance Jenkinson

Western United has lost its way in the second half of the A-League season.

United has won just once in their past seven matches, free falling to seventh on the ladder, four points outside the top six.

In one of its most lifeless performances of the season on Sunday, United went down 1-0 to Brisbane Roar at Mars Stadium in Ballarat.

United coach Mark Rudan cut a deflated figure after the game because he and his team are working hard during the week to regain their spark, but it is not translating to match days.

Aside from three good chances in the first 12 minutes, all skied over the crossbar, United barely even threatened Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young, who had one of his easiest days at the office with the home side not registering a shot on target despite having the lion’s share of possession with 61 per cent.

“I thought we were the better team in the first half, albeit not really getting a shot on goal, but we threatened, had a lot of the ball,” Rudan said.

“They played a high line, we worked all week on making forward runs at the right times and who makes the forward runs, whether it be our 10s or our full backs who had the higher starting position.

“We re-confirmed that message to the boys at half time, yet we didn’t really see it.

“That’s kind of what frustrated me the most is that we didn’t execute what we spoke about during the week and we worked on during the week as well.”

Western United was brought undone by a sloppy error at the back by debutant Tomoki Imai in the 61st minute.

Otherwise a solid contributor for United on debut, Imai let the ball slip out of his control and into the path of Roar forward Brad Inman, who unselfishly played in substitute Mirza Muratovic to score past United goalkeeper Filip Kurto.

Rudan shielded Imai from criticism.

“I’m not going to have a go at him,” he said.

“Ultimately it was his mistake that you could talk about, but it was his first game, his debut for the club.”

Alessandro Diamanti and Valentino Yuel provided some energy for Western United off the bench in the second half.

Jerry Skotadis was outstanding in defensive midfield in the first half, while Oskar Dillon continued his solid work in defence alongside veteran Andrew Durante.

The best chance of the second half came off a beautiful cross from Diamanti to striker Besart Berisha, who put his header wide.

It was a frustrating day at the office for Western United. United will need to dust itself off quickly with a short turnaround for its clash with Wellington

Phoenix in Wellington on Friday night.