John Aloisi has relished a stroke of fortune from the football gods as Western United rode their luck to seal a dramatic 2-1 FFA Cup play-off match victory over the Newcastle Jets.
In Aloisi’s first competitive game at the helm, the Jets were controversially denied what appeared to be a clear goal, when scores were level at 0-0, in the 31st minute.
United snatched the lead through Lachie Wales 13 minutes later at GMHBA Stadium, before Newcastle responded through recruit Daniel Penha in the 63rd minute.
But United striker Aleksandar Prijovic capitalised on an error from Newcastle goalkeeper Jack Duncan to seal the victory and a spot in the round of 32 in the 79th minute.
Jets players were left aghast shortly after the half-hour mark when the would-be goal wasn’t awarded.
United goalkeeper Jamie Young parried Angus Thurgate’s fierce shot onto the post, with the ball appearing to fully cross the line as it rebounded, before bouncing back into play.
Aloisi said he hadn’t seen the incident but joked the “football gods” might have been looking out for him.
“These things will go for us and go against us sometimes and tonight, maybe because they felt the football gods needed to be on my side,” he said.
“It’s been three years since I coached an official game, so it was good to get a little bit of luck when you needed it.”
Jets counterpart Arthur Papas noted the ball had “clearly” crossed the line but expected VAR to deal with a similar incident come the A-League Men season.
There is no VAR in the FFA Cup, while neither competition has goal-line technology.
“It’s gone over the line and we can sit and talk about it all day, but at the end of the day we didn’t get our goal,” Papas said.
Thirteen minutes later, United snatched the lead after Wales pounced on a mix-up between Jason Hoffman and Duncan.
Newcastle equalised in style in the second half when Penha drove a near-unstoppable free kick past Young, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t send it to safety.
But Prijovic had the final say when Duncan missed an attempted defensive clearance, leaving the ball for the Serbian striker to pass into the back of an open net.
“Happy to get the first win because these boys have gone a long time without winning and so it’s important to get that taste of winning again,” Aloisi said.
United, who were making their Cup debut, will next play Wellington Phoenix in the round of 32 on December 7.
Elsewhere, Macarthur FC had an ideal FFA Cup debut, comfortably accounting for Newcastle Olympic FC 3-0.
Aleksandar Jovanovic headed the Bulls in front in the 39th minute, with Lachlan Rose’s brace sealing the victory.
Central Coast beat NSW NPL club Blacktown City thanks to debutant Beni N’Kololo’s goal in the 75th minute.
The A-League Men season starts on November 19.