Berisha goal gives Western a dream start

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Western United’s debut in the A-League delivered a fairytale start for the side as they took home three points with a 1-0 win in Wellington.

The match started fairly even with both the Wellington Phoenix and Western having chances, albeit not very good ones, as both sides settled into the game. 

The first chance for the Kiwi’s came in the 17th minute as Steven Taylor slotted a ball through for David Ball, whose lobbed shot edged just wide of the goal. 

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The momentum soon shifted in favour of the Nix as Western delt with a barrage of shots and crosses, with both Ball and Liberato Cacace looking particularly threatening.

Cacace provided the best chance of the opening half-hour when his 20-yard shot forced a diving save from Filip Kurto.

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Despite this Western would draw first blood and Besart Berisha wrote himself into history scoring Western’s first-ever goal.

Connor Pain’s cross to Joshua Risdon saw an excellent cut back to Berisha and naturally, he put it in from point-blank range in the 34th minute. 

The Phoenix had been in control of the game but Berisha’s goal quieted them as the previous dominance was nowhere to be seen for the rest of the half.

The match then turned into a possession game between the two, bar a singular shot over the bar from Ball. 

Wellington started the second half well as they probed the Western defence multiple times searching for a way through.

Western had their own chances as Pain, Alessandro Diamanti and Scott McDonald provided good chances for Berisha, as the A-League’s all-time leading goal scorer continued to prove his worth.

Tempers began to flare following a controversial handball in the box by Western before Rufer went in hard on Kone, picking up the games only yellow card.

While the Nix had started the second half well, again the game began to settle down into a possession-based game.

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The Phoenix had a chance to equalise, offered up on a golden platter in the 69th minute but Alex Rufer headed McCowatt’s cross into the stands from point-blank range.

Though the chance was spurned the Nix gained some inspiration and tested Western’s defence some more following Rufer’s attempt, which included them winning their eighth corner of the match.

Ben Waine had a chance to equalize again for the Kiwi’s early in stoppage time but his shot was headed wide.

Even a late indirect free kick in the box for Wellington could prevent United from starting their A-League chapter with a win.

Western United 1 (Berisha 34’)
Wellington Phoenix 0
Attendance: 8254
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant referees: Lance Greenshields, Daniel Ilievski
Fourth official: Stephen Lucas 

Wellington Phoenix: Stefan MARINOVIC (GK), Luke DEVERE, Liberato CACACE, Louis FENTON (Tim PAYNE 68’) Steven TAYLOR (c), Matti STIENMANN (Ben WAINE 79’), Alex RUFER, Ulises DAVILA, Callum MCCOWATT, David BALL (Reno PISCOPO 64’), Jausha SOTORIO 

Unused subs: Oliver SAIL, Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI,, Cameron DEVLIN, Walter SCOTT

Western United: Filip KURTO (GK), Andrew DURANTE, Connor CHAPMAN, Panagiotis KONE, Scott MCDONALD (Max BURGESS 88’), Connor MCPAIN, Dario JERTEC, Besart BERISHA (Kwabena APPIAH-KUBI 82’), Joshua RISDON, ERSAN GULUM (Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS 79’), Alessandro DIAMANTI (c)  

Unused subs: James DELIANOV, Dylan PIERIAS, Ivan VUJICA, Joshua CAVALLO

Feature image credit: Western United

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Dan Moskovitz
The Football Sack's resident teen kiwi football nut. Loves everything football except defeats.