Sometimes football can be a cruel sport. Just a week after a scintillating 5-1 hammering of the Newcastle Jets at McKellar Park, Canberra United were on the suffering side as bottom of the table Wellington Phoenix stunned the club on their first trip to New Zealand, a humbling 0-5 reverse the result.
Whilst that hurt, and boy did it hurt, United will regroup and hit the ground running upon their return to the national capital as we welcome the League leaders, and Liberty A-League newcomers, Western United for a first meeting between the two clubs.
Western United have been in amazing form and have had the rest of the competition sitting up to take notice as they have swept nearly all before them in what can only be described as the ultimate dream debut in the national league.
The challenge they will face in Canberra though will be against a team bristling from the trip to Wellington. A team set on consigning that loss to the annals of history, learning from the mistakes made, and becoming a better team for it. As the old adage says, you often learn more from defeat than victory.
Canberra will be under no illusions however, no matter how good their record at McKellar Park, that this will be anything other than a stern examination. Against an opponent that has only lost once in their nine Liberty A-League games to date, a surprise 2-1 reverse to Western Sydney Wanderers, that was always going to be the case.
On their five road trips in 2022/2023, Western United have scored thirteen goals (four against Phoenix, two at Adelaide, three at Melbourne City and Perth Glory, and one in the loss at Western Sydney) whilst conceding seven.
At home, Canberra are undefeated at McKellar Park, the home defeat to Melbourne City just prior to Christmas having taken place at Seiffert Oval, the draw with Perth Glory followed by successive home wins against Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets, the latter two amongst a blizzard of goals.
Much has always been made about the quality and vociferousness of the Canberra United home crowd. It can make playing at McKellar Park a daunting experience for any visitor. The home side need that again this weekend if they are to down the leaders and reignite a challenge for the top four and the finals.
There’s nothing so dangerous as a wounded beast.
Saturday 28 January 2023
Canberra United v Western United
(McKellar Park, 15:00)