Western ready for A-League finals scramble

Western United's hopes of an A-League finals appearance remain firmly in their hands and coach Mark Rudan is confident they can handle their fixture crunch.

MARK RUDAN.
MARK RUDAN. Picture: Elias Rodriguez/Getty Images

A tough run of four games stands between Western United and a finals appearance in their inaugural A-League season, but coach Mark Rudan isn't viewing Sunday's loss to Newcastle as a setback.

Rudan's side suffered a 1-0 defeat at McDonald Jones Stadium, leaving them in eighth place and four points off the finals places.

United have a five-day turnaround to Friday's clash with Western Sydney before playing three matches in the space of 13 days.

"I just keep the message positive - I didn't think it was a bad performance today - the attitude and the mentality of the players and their output was fantastic," Rudan said.

"They really fought to the end, they wanted to get that extra goal to get back into the game.

"So the message is going to be positive - we've got the next one coming up, destiny's still in our hands so it's important that we continue to do the right thing and keep the boys fresh and positive.

"It's a five-day turnaround and the next one's the most important for us."

After facing ninth-placed Western Sydney, United clash with Perth, Sydney and Melbourne City - who currently sit fifth, first and second respectively.

Marquee and captain Alessandro Diamanti was substituted in the 75th minute on Sunday, with Rudan confirming that was with a view to having the 37-year-old ready for the Wanderers game.

The A-League newcomers are very much in control of their own fate, given their games in hand, but currently sit eighth among a cluster of teams scrambling for spots in the top six - with just four points separating fifth and ninth place.

Sunday's result saw Western overtaken by Newcastle, who are a mathematical prospect for finals at best given they sit three points off sixth place with poor goal difference and one game remaining.

"Miracles do happen sometimes - so we will believe, but I'm not going to lose no sleep over it because my team has taken care of business today, which was important and now it moves on to someone else," Jets coach Carl Robinson said.

"Western are a very good team ... but there's some very good teams that are probably going to miss out on the play-offs this year.

"But it's one spot, probably one place for four teams and it's down to whoever takes care of business.

"So ... I'm not gonna worry about it because it's out of my hands and other managers will probably worry more than me."