John Aloisi has hailed Western United’s resilience after they overcame a week disrupted by three positive COVID-19 cases to beat Adelaide 1-0 and secure a club-record fourth consecutive win.
United confirmed on Friday night two additional players had tested positive for COVID-19, via rapid antigen test then PCR tests on Thursday and Friday respectively, after a previous mid-week positive case.
All other Western United football staff and the playing group had a second round of PCR testing on Thursday and have received negative results.
At AAMI Park on Friday night, Connor Pain lashed home the opening goal in the 44th minute, cutting onto his right foot after a brilliant build-up.
It ensured Western went clear on top of the league from Macarthur and Melbourne Victory, who play later in the round, while the Reds remain winless.
“With the week that we had to deal, that just shows the spirit of the team, the club,” Aloisi said.
“We followed all the right protocols and then it’s unfortunate.
“We knew this could happen… training had to change times, you’re not sure if you’re going to play the game or not play the game.
“But the club worked tirelessly in the background, the players remained focused and showed their character because we had to fight.
“… We did have to adjust and that (COVID cases) happens. It’s probably going to happen all season.
“We just have to be ready for it and make sure we adapt well and the group did tonight.”
There was controversy in the 53rd minute when Adelaide were denied a chance to equalise.
As he hooked the ball forward, Craig Goodwin copped a big challenge from Leo Lacroix and referee Kurt Ams blew the whistle to stop play, rather than letting Adelaide take the advantage.
While United’s defenders eased up, Ben Halloran burst forward to get the ball, chested it down then finished with aplomb, leaving Adelaide’s players in uproar when the would-be goal didn’t count.
“I had a good view of it because I was in that direct line and the referee looked. So he saw that the ball was going to Ben Halloran and then he blew the whistle,” Reds coach Carl Veart said.
“So I think he’s made a mistake. I’ve asked him afterwards and he said he’ll have a look and he’ll apologise if he’s made a mistake, which doesn’t help us, does it?”
Veart also lamented the VAR reviewing a penalty shout for Western United where Adelaide defender Michael Jakobsen had his toe broken when Dylan Wenzel-Halls kicked him as he attempted to shoot.
“I know (the referees) haven’t had a coach for a while. But the coach that’s just been appointed, he’s got plenty of work to do,” he said.
“Because the inconsistencies that we’re having every week, it shouldn’t be there and that’s what we want as coaches, we want to have consistency.”
Adelaide were without striker Kusini Yengi, who injured his quad in training on Thursday, while Western’s Steven Lustica was forced off the field in the 42nd minute.