Pressure on United as A-League derby looms

Anna Harrington
After three straight losses, the pressure is on Western United ahead of the derby with Victory

After a strong start to their time in the A-League, Western United have lost three games on the trot and are staring down the barrel of a crunch local derby with Melbourne Victory.

Sunday's 2-0 loss to Sydney FC brought Mark Rudan's team back to the pack, with United failing to find the back of the net in their past three matches, losing to the Jets, Mariners and Sky Blues.

It means next Sunday's derby at GMHBA Stadium shapes as a bumper game for the A-League newcomers, just over a week after Victory eased pressure on Marco Kurz with a gritty win of their own.

"It's (the game is) as big as they want it to be. They don't need their coach to talk anything up, they're experienced pros, they're good people, they're good footballers and their attitude through the week will determine one, who plays and two, how big this game will be," Rudan said post-match.

"We understand the rivalry that we want to build and who we are as a football club as well.

"I felt we've somewhat let ourselves down the last three weeks, particularly not being able to score because that's going to be the emphasis (from the media) ... and rightly so, because we haven't scored, the facts are the facts. But that's not through a lack of trying."

With Melbourne City enjoying the bye round, Sydney FC secured top spot, taking a two-point lead on the table with their win over the A-League newcomers.

Despite losing Milos Ninkovic to illness pre-match, the Sky Blues delivered a gritty defensive performance, with Alexander Baumjohann setting up Adam Le Fondre's brace.

City will get the chance to reclaim top spot on Friday night when they host Perth Glory, who were left reeling by a 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory.

Socceroo Robbie Kruse scored the game's only goal and was clearly the most influential player on the park as Victory deployed a counterattacking approach against the Glory, who are now winless in more than a month.

On Saturday, Brisbane Roar defeated Central Coast 2-0, with Roy O'Donovan and Scott Neville the goalscorers as Robbie Fowler's side jumped into the top six.

Western Sydney slumped to a 2-0 loss to Newcastle, with Angus Thurgate and Dimi Petratos striking in the second half for the Jets.

The loss puts pressure on Markus Babbel's side, who started the season brightly but have lost their past three games and now face back-to-back away trips to Wellington and Perth.

On Sunday, Wellington Phoenix handed Adelaide United their first loss in five league games with a 2-1 win at Coopers Stadium.

Adelaide's Nikola Mileusnic opened the scoring with a goal of the season contender, before David Ball responded for the visitors.

Wellington snatched victory after Liberato Cacace won a penalty, with George Blackwood ruled to have tugged his shirt. While the ruling looked soft, it wasn't overturned and Ulises Davila converted from the spot.