Western, Reds set for A-L crunch match

Anna Harrington
Western United feel they can exploit Adelaide United's defensive frailties in their A-League clash

With a maiden A-League finals campaign still a possibility, Western United will be going all out to leap back into the top six when they face Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Saturday.

The competition newcomers currently sit eighth but are just two points out of the top six - and three points off fifth-placed Adelaide.

"It's such a tight league - the finals race is going to be very tight," Western coach Mark Rudan told AAP.

"(With) the run of games that we've got, every game's tough. There are no easy games and so the bigger the challenge, the better for us.

"We're a team that wants a challenge and nothing has stopped us - we want to be competitive week in, week out. The players want to play finals football."

In January, Nathan Konstandopoulos broke Western United hearts with a late screamer to hand Adelaide a 4-3 win at Whitten Oval.

Rudan emphasised the need for better defensive shape but backed his team to expose the Reds going the other way.

"We're going to go there for the three points," he said.

"They've conceded seven goals in the last two games and we've made a strong mention of that through the week as well - we've found a lot of areas where we can expose them."

Reds counterpart Gertjan Verbeek acknowledged his team needed to maintain their concentration in defence after just one clean sheet in six games.

"I think we have (conceded) maybe 12-15 goals from situations where we're not switched on - free kicks, corners, throw-ins, we have the ball and we pass the ball to the feet of the opponent," Verbeek said.

"It's nothing to do with great attacking football from the opponent and then you lose games.

"So attacking football is for 90-95 per cent creativity and a little bit of discipline ... but defence is about 90-95 per cent of discipline and less creativity.

"And that discipline we have to work on and that discipline has to do with responsibility."

Adelaide's Ben Halloran (hamstring) has been named to return from injury, as have Stefan Mauk (quad) and Ryan Strain (hamstring).

STATS THAT MATTER

* Adelaide beat Western United 4-3 at Whitten Oval on the only previous occasion these teams met. This is the first time the Reds have hosted Western United in Adelaide.

* Adelaide have won their past six matches against Victorian opposition on the bounce at Coopers Stadium, conceding just two goals.

* Besart Berisha has scored eight goals in his past eight games against Adelaide United.

Stats provided by Opta