Western United has lift off with a 4-0 victory over Caroline Springs George Cross in its history-making first preseason friendly at City Vista Recreation Reserve on Thursday night.
The A-League’s newest club faced stern resistance in the first 35 minutes before young striker Valentino Yuel broke the dead-lock with a powerful headed goal.
Yuel was the beneficiary of a centimetre-perfect cross from United’s marquee import Alessandro Diamanti.
The longer the game went on, the greater the Western United threat became.
As Caroline Springs George Cross players started to tire, the holes opened up in their defence and United was able to break through four times.
Connor Pain doubled the United lead just before the half-time break with a tap-in.
It was a well-deserved goal for Pain, who had worked tirelessly on the left wing in the first half.
The third goal was truly one for the locals to savour.
Youngster Dylan Pierias, a Caroline Springs resident who got his start at Keilor Park in the juniors, fired in a jaw-droppingly fearsome shot that gave the goalkeeper no chance to make a save.
Apostolos Stamatelopoulos put the icing on the cake of a four-goal win when he pounced on a goalkeeping error for an easy goal.
At this stage of preseason, the result does not usually matter, but when you want to make a good first impression in front of 3,267 spectators, there is a little bit more to play for.
Western United coach Mark Rudan was particularly impressed by his team’s ability to transfer what they learned from study sessions and the training track and apply it on the pitch in their first ever competitive game.
“You never know how players are going to take all the messages and instructions that we’ve given them in an official game capacity,” Rudan said.
“For the majority of the game, the attitude was good, the effort was certainly there and their discipline was really good as well.”
Rudan has pushed a culture of excellence on his inaugural Western United team from day one of preseason.
While United looked comfortable at the back, dangerous in attack and produced some eye-catching team moves from the back to the front line, Rudan believes the team only scratched the surface of the style of play he wants implemented for the A-League season.
His players have done plenty of “homework” to quickly get in sync, looking at plenty of slides and pictures to ensure the game strategies are second nature to every member of the squad.
“We make no apologies about the demands we place on our players,” Rudan said.
“That’s just one [game] and we want to build on that and keep progressing.”
You could not wipe the smile from the face of Western United midfielder Josh Cavallo, a former Melbourne City youth player, after the game.
The 19-year-old described it as a “special” night for the club and could not believe the amount of green and black in the crowd.
“I was surprised by the turn out tonight, I was really impressed,” he said.
“It was great to get all the fans behind us.”
Cavallo credited the fast-tracking of team’s unity and game plan preparation on a recent 10-day training camp on the Gold Coast as a reason for his team’s hot start.
“I think it was crucial for the team to have that 10 days where we could jell together because I think it’s really paid off on the pitch now,” he said.
For Western United chief executive officer Maurice Bisetto, he ticked off a successful night, enjoyed it for a few hours and got back to work in preparation for United’s next preseason friendly against Altona Magic at City Vista Recreation Reserve on Thursday at 7pm.
“We don’t want to be a one hit wonder, we want to have albums, we want to have a history and we want to leave a legacy,” he said.
“I’ll be driving home tonight thinking how we can make next week better and the week after better and have a sustainable future for our fans.”