United slip to costly ALM draw with Jets

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Western United's hopes of securing the A-League Men premiership have taken a hammer blow, opening the door for Melbourne City to claim the plate after slumping 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.

They realistically had to beat the Jets, given leaders City were in action against wooden spooners Perth Glory on Wednesday, to have a shot at silverware 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, with both clubs relying on Perth taking points off City to keep their premiership hopes alive.

City were surprisingly trailing Perth 1-0 when Aloisi completed his post-match press conference, but the United coach wasn't getting too excited too early.

"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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