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A-League: Western to push Victory to the limit

Melbourne Victory face Western United at AAMI Park with the local rivals both aiming for victories that could prove to be important come the end of the regular A-League season.

Western may be propping up the standings, but their recent form is actually quite impressive, while Victory have won just two of their last 10 games to fall off the pace for the minor premiership.

These two teams met less than a month ago at the same venue, when the Victory needed two injury-time strikes from Damien Da Silva to secure a 2-1 triumph.

What: Western United v Melbourne Victory
Where: AAMI Park, Melbourne
When: 19:00, Thursday 14th March 2024
How to watch: Paramount+
Odds: Western United 5.00, Draw 4.00, Melbourne Victory 1.66

Western fighting to move off the bottom

John Aloisi’s United outfit won only two of their first 15 games of the A-League season but have been far more impressive in recent outings and are now just three points adrift of ninth-placed Perth Glory.

They are clearly motivated to try and lift themselves off the foot of the table, having claimed three victories from their last five outings, with their sole loss during that time their late reverse at the hands of Victory.

Last time out they put a dent in Western Sydney Wanderers' top-six hopes by claiming a 3-1 win at Bankwest Stadium, with Brazilian loan striker Daniel Penha scoring for the third time in his last four games.

Nikita Rukavytsya has found the net twice in his last three outings, while Noah Botic had scored four in six before suffering a foot injury which is set to keep him sidelined for an "extended period".

Ramy Najjarine will also miss the remainder of the A-League season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but defender James Donachie returned from a three-match ban to show up well against Western Sydney.

Having been edged out at the death against Victory a matter of weeks ago, Western can take heart from having completed the double over their local rivals last season.

All three of those most recent match-ups were decided by a single-goal margin and a similar outcome on Thursday is available at 2.62, with Western 7.00 to secure a victory by one goal.

Victory and Fornaroli back on track

The Victory started the A-League season with an undefeated run stretching across 15 matches, although nine of those games ended in draws.

However, since then they have won two, lost three and drawn one to drop off the pace being set by Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix at the top of the ladder.

Last time out they won 2-1 at Adelaide United, with star striker Bruno Fornaroli netting both goals to take his tally for the season to a league-leading 15, having previously gone four games without finding the back of the net.

The 36-year-old scored four times in a game on two occasions earlier on in the campaign, before a trip to the Asian Cup with Australia seemed to affect his from.

Having rediscovered his goal touch, Fornaroli is 2.00 to score at anytime against Western and is 4.33 to net the first goal of the game.

And head coach Tony Popovic is hoping to see that improved display against Wester Sydney built upon, as he told the West Australian: "The performance was much better than we've had the last couple of games. When we do that, we always give ourselves a chance,

"We created chances throughout, something that we've lacked the last couple of matches, so that was a real positive."

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