AAP Soccer

Roar, Western face off in crunch A-L match

By AAP Newswire

With the race for the A-League top six growing tighter by the week, Western United and Brisbane Roar will face off at Ballarat's Mars Stadium on Sunday.

Sixth-placed Roar are one point ahead of United, who are coming off the bye, while in-form Brisbane beat Adelaide 2-1 last round.

"I expect another close encounter (like) last time we played them," United coach Mark Rudan told AAP.

"I don't really see a big difference in the way they play, they're just getting results now and with results they start to get belief."

Rudan and Robbie Fowler traded barbs after United's 2-0 win in December, with Rudan upset Fowler didn't shake his hand, while his Roar counterpart called out United for time wasting.

Rudan said the pair had quickly moved on and there were "no qualms" about their previous disagreement.

"We had a good chat about things the day after the incident - we both laughed it off and shrugged it off," Rudan said.

"We're both competitors and we're trying to do the best for our respective teams."

Fowler said Rudan had apologised to him at the time but played down their previous disagreement.

"I've got absolutely no problems with anyone from Western United - or any of their players, any of the staff," Fowler said.

"We go there as a team who's playing really well at the minute and look, they're our rivals because they're there to try and stop us getting three points.

"That's as far as it goes."

Alessandro Diamanti could return for United, having missed their last match through injury, with Rudan noting the playmaker had trained all week.

Dario Jertec (back), Jonathan Aspropotamitis and Tomi Uskok have all been managing niggles, while new signing Tomoki Imai could debut.

Brisbane's Scott McDonald will not feature against his old club, with a clause in his contract preventing the attacker from facing United.

That could again happen if they meet in finals, but Fowler said they would "cross that bridge" if and when the Roar make the six.

"Scott McDonald will be an important player so of course we'll try our best to get him."

STATS THAT MATTER

* Western United FC picked up a 2-0 win in their only previous A-League encounter with the Roar (13 December 2019), leading by two goals at halftime

* Brisbane Roar have scored 13 goals within the final half-hour of games this A- League season, more than any other team in the competition

* Western United FC have scored three goals in three of their last four home games in the A-League; though they've managed only two wins from those matches