Western United got their season up and running last night, with Connor Pain a major point of difference in their 1-0 victory over Perth Glory.
Pain assisted Dylan Wenzel-Halls’ first Western United goal after a terrific run down the left wing and into the box. That goal ended United’s nine game losing streak after their 1-0 loss last weekend against rivals Melbourne Victory.
He was pushed up back into the left wing after playing the last few seasons as left wing back. And after a quiet performance last Saturday night, he was a star on Friday night, consistently given space and creating plenty of chances.
Overall on the night he had 36 passes, passing at 80.6 per cent and 77.4 per cent in the attacking half (the most among all attackers in the game). He also created three chances and won three of his five duels.
Coach John Aloisi said he was happy with his game, particularly once they gave him more space in the second half.
“I thought that he grew into the game, especially in that second half when we started to find more space for him,” Aloisi said.
He added that they’d hoped to free him up due to how strong his game is on a wing.
“We know that Connor once he gets in those areas and starts to take people on he’s hard to stop because he can go both ways.”
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Pain made the move to United in the club’s inaugural season after 126 appearances with Melbourne Victory and the Central Coast Mariners.
He notches up his first assist for the season after finding just two last year while also scoring a goal of his own.
With his strong performance along the left wing, possibly his best in United colours, we could see Pain being involved in more scores than ever in the 2021/22 season.
While United struggled to convert their chances into scores, often pushed wide of a Glory side often defending with 10 men, the 28-year-old constantly offered avenues to goal.
Their inaugural season was Pain’s most prolific, with seven assists and two goals. It’s no surprise that this was their highest scoring year in their short history, scoring 46 goals as the third best attacking side in the competition.
With the help of the ever-dynamic Alessandro Diamanti, they could back to their scoring best with the two firing week-on-week.
Aloisi also gave credit to the rest of whole attack and midfield when defending, saying their hard work rate will make it hard for teams to contain this year.
“Our players, our wide players, our midfielders, our strikers, they work defensively and they make it hard for the opposition as well.”
He added that his team won’t change the way they play, believing they’ll continue to improve each week.
United is lining up with a 4-2-3-1 formation under Aloisi, with Diamanti’s creative play through central midfield working to the advantage of Wenzel-Halls and Aleksandr Prijovic, though the latter struggled last night.
Though admitting he felt they played better in last week’s loss, the coach is happy with his structure moving forward.
“We won’t change in our way of playing our structures and what we’re trying to do, we just have to improve more and we will improve.”
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