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United slip to costly ALM draw with Jets

Western United’s hopes of securing the A-League Men premiership will go down to a hectic final round after they slumped to a 1-1 draw with Newcastle.

John Aloisi’s United entered their penultimate game two points behind Melbourne City and one behind Melbourne Victory, who have just one game left.

A win would have sent them top and piled pressure on City, who later faced wooden spooners Perth Glory, ahead of the final round.

Things were on track when Adisu Bayew scored in the 27th minute but several missed opportunities, then Jordan Elsey’s 52nd-minute header, meant United only claimed a draw.

Wednesday’s result also opened the door for Melbourne Victory, level with United on 45 points, to snatch a top-two spot, or even the premiership.

City were surprisingly trailing Perth 1-0 when Aloisi completed his post-match press conference, and ultimately were stunned 2-0.

It means City, 46 points, lead both their crosstown rivals by a point and goal difference.

“We’ll see what happens tonight and we’ll see what happens then on Saturday and then if we’ve still got an opportunity on Sunday,” Aloisi said.

“But we want to be going into finals in this sort of form and it was a very good away performance that’s for sure.

“After the game the boys were really down and disappointed and angry with themselves.

“I haven’t spoken to them yet but I don’t want them to be angry. I want them to be proud of first of all what we’ve achieved so far in terms of putting ourselves in at least this position, and also the performance from tonight.

“There’s a lot of football to be played. Whether we are fighting for the premiers plate next week or not, that’s out of our hands now.

“But if we are we’ll give it everything and if not, we least go into finals knowing that we can go anywhere, whether that’s at home in Melbourne or away and still put on a performance and get results.”

United’s night was further soured by substitute Dylan Pierias (ankle) limping off in the 70th.

Aloisi said the prognosis “didn’t look good” for Pierias, while Steven Lustica (calf) will only feature again this season if United make the grand final.

Jets coach Arthur Papas hailed his squad, depleted through illness, injury and suspension.

“Outstanding effort to be honest,” he said.

“We had eight players out, we had probably 10 on the field who literally have been stuck in bed all day.

“To see that kind of performance with one day less turnaround compared to them as well and how strong we finished that game, I couldn’t be more proud of that group of players today.”

Meanwhile Jets veteran Taylor Regan hinted to Paramount Plus he would retire at season’s end.

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