Hamill signs for expansion club

Western United have continued their recruitment ahead of their inaugural A-League season by signing former Western Sydney Wanderers skipper Brendan Hamill.

The expansion club, who will play out of Geelong, have confirmed the defender has joined after the end of his Wanderers contract.

Hamill, who played more than 100 games for the Red & Black across five seasons, said he was looking forward to joining his new club.

"After speaking to the coaches and staff at Western United, I was really impressed on how they are planning to make a huge impact in their first season of the A-League starting in October," he added.

"Having played in Melbourne a few years ago, my wife and I cannot wait to get back to start pre-season. I've matured a lot having played in South Korea for a number of seasons and then taking up a leadership role at the Wanderers."

The 26-year-old played every minute of both legs of Western Sydney's 2014 Asian Champions League final victory over Al-Hilal.

Hamill, who has also played in the A-League for Melbourne Heart, said he was excited to get the chance to play alongside Ersan Gulum who has signed for United as their inaugural non-visa foreign player.

The expansion club have announced two other signings over the past two days, with keeper Filip Kurto and winger Max Burgess both joining from Wellington Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Melbourne City have announced they have signed experienced defender Scott Galloway from Adelaide United ahead of the 2019-20 season.

The 24-year-old made his debut in the A-League in 2013, and has since Galloway notched up 128 club appearances as well as playing for Australia at U20 and U23 level.

Meanwhile, last year's minor premiers Sydney FC are 1/1 to win the Grand Final, while the Sky Blues are 11/5 to win in 90 minutes.

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Schwegler becomes Wanderers first signing

Western Sydney Wanderers have signed former Switzerland international midfielder Pirmin Schwegler.

The 32-year-old has joined on a one-year contract as Wanderers begin their planning for 2019/20.

Markus Babbel failed to guide the club into the Finals Series this year, the team finishing 16 points off the top six.

They made a move for Schwegler, who played 14 times for Switzerland over a five-year period up to 2014.

The former Eintracht Frankfurt player said: "For me, an opportunity had arisen to fulfil a lifelong dream. I got the opportunity to live for a while in Australia and it was an opportunity that I did not know would come again."

Schwegler moves from Hannover 96, and will link up with his new teammates next month.

"I am very excited to join the Western Sydney Wanderers and I am counting down the days until I arrive," he said. "I am very proud to be part of the Red & Black and look forward to getting started."

Meanwhile, Sydney FC full back Michael Zullo is dealing with a minor shoulder injury ahead of Sunday's Grand Final against Perth Glory.

The Australia international wasn't able to train fully on Tuesday, after being hurt in the second half of the Sky Blues' 6-1 semi-final win over Melbourne Victory.

He was restricted to light jogging only on Tuesday but coach Steve Corica is hopeful he will be fully fit for the decider.

Zullo was forced off the field 13 minutes from the end after being fouled by Victory's Kosta Barbarouses earlier in the game.

Sydney FC are 1/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 11/5 to win in 90 minutes, with Perth 5/4 and the draw 12/5.

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Wanderers release import duo

Western Sydney Wanderers have released imports Alexander Baumjohann and Oriol Riera at the end of a disappointing A-League season.

A number of other players are likely to be shown the door after exit interviews in the coming days, after Markus Babbel's side finished 16 points off the Finals Series.

Baumjohann, who was the team's chief creative outlet, is leaving after just one season while Babbel has confirmed leading scorer Riera won't be returning for next season when the club move into their new Bankwest Stadium home.

Wanderers will also lose Josh Risdon, who is moving to A-League expansion team Western United, while Mark Bridge has retired.

Riera's 10 goals in 21 league outings couldn't prevent Babbel's team missing out on the top six. He also led the club in goals last season with 16 when they finished two points outside the Finals Series places.

Among other players who could leave are Roly Bonevacia, who has been linked with a move to Perth Glory, Spanish defender Raul Llorente and youngster Abraham Majok – a target for Central Coast Mariners.

Babbel said: "I'm 100 per cent sure we'll have a stronger side next season. If we get the players what I have in my head I think we'll have a strong side.

"In the end, it's a quality thing. We need quality, we need experience because how we play, the style was most of the time good. If you get this man chances you have to win these games.

"This is the next step … many players have two frustrating years behind them and definitely will not follow a third one. We have to come back in the playoffs, this is what the club expects and where we want to go."

Wanderers finished eighth in the table, where they had been since round eight, and won just six of their 27 matches.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 11/10 to win the Grand Final. Australia are 250/1 to win the 2020 World Cup.

Victory finish off with a win

A header from Swedish striker Ola Toivonen earned Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win in their final round A-League clash away to Western Sydney.

The reigning premiers, who had lost two of their previous three games, will go into the Finals Series boosted by their ANZ Stadium success.

They were guaranteed to finish third regardless of the result, but coach Kevin Muscat had wanted to return to winning ways before they hosted an elimination final next weekend.

Keisuke Honda volleyed just wide in the sixth minute before Toivonen notched his 13th goal of the campaign midway through the first half, heading home powerfully from a Thomas Deng cross.

When Wanderers threatened an equaliser, keeper Matt Acton bravely smothered at the feet of Alexander Baumjohann.

The visitors had two more chances before the interval, with Raul Baena curling a strike over and Georg Niedermeier heading wide.

Bruce Kamau was denied by the legs of Acton early in the second half as Western Sydney began to get the upper hand.

Kosta Barbarouses sent a powerful drive over the bar just before the hour mark, and nine minutes later the New Zealand international was thwarted in a one-on-one by keeper Jack Greenwood.

Victory had a good chance when substitute Elvis Kamsoba headed a Toivonen cross over in the 71st minute, with the final opportunity falling to Wanderers' Mitchell Duke who put a diving header wide.

Western Sydney slumped to their 13th loss in 22 games at ANZ Stadium over the past two seasons, during which they won just five times.

Toivonen said after the match: "It was a nice goal, good cross from Tommy and we're flying home with the three points.

"I think the whole season has been a little bit up and down, a lot of injuries going through the squad, but now the fun part starts so we're looking forward to it."

The Victory are 11/2 to win the Grand Final, with Sydney FC 2/1 and Perth Glory 11/10.

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Simon double earns Mariners third win

Central Coast are already certain of finishing bottom of the A-League, but they gave their fans something to cheer when they beat Western Sydney 3-1.

The Mariners won for just the third time this season in their final home game of the campaign.

Skipper Matt Simon scored twice, including one from the penalty spot, as the Gosford club ended Wanderers' five-game winning streak at Central Coast Stadium.

Western Sydney, coming off a 1-1 derby draw with Sydney, fell behind 11 minutes before the break when they conceded a free-kick just outside the box.

Simon took a long run up to the ball and smashed it through the wall beyond teenage keeper Jack Greenwood.

The Mariners doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half when Greenwood struck Jordan Murray in the face when trying to punch clear a high ball.

Murray did his best to keep out Simon's powerful penalty, but despite getting a hand to the shot he couldn't keep it out.

The keeper made a full stretch save to deny Aiden O'Neill four minutes later, but defender Kye Rowles scored his first A-League goal with a header off the ensuing corner kick from Jack Clisby.

Mark Bridge came off the bench for his 250th A-League appearance and within seconds got onto the scoresheet when he smashed home a penalty after Jacob Melling pushed Rashid Mahazi over inside the box.

Wanderers had an extra man for the final four minutes, after Rowles was shown a straight red card for a dangerous, lunging challenge on Alexander Baumjohann.

The visitors had two late chances to reduce the deficit but Mariners keeper Adam Pearce made a diving save to deny Bruce Kamau and Abraham Majok blasted over the crossbar five minutes into added time.

Meanwhile, minor premiers Perth Glory are 13/10 to win the Grand Final while Sydney FC are 2/1 and Melbourne Victory 5/1.

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Wanderers hurt rivals’ chances

Western Sydney all but killed off Sydney FC's chances of winning the A-League Premier's Plate when they held the Sky Blues to a 1-1 draw in the derby at ANZ Stadium.

With Steve Corica's men needing victory to give themselves any realistic chance of catching Perth Glory and winning the premiership for the third consecutive season, it was their rivals who arguably were deserving of three points.

They conceded the opening goal to Alex Brosque's powerful low strike seven minutes into the game, but after Alexander Baumjohann levelled they looked the more likely team to grab a winning goal.

Their fans celebrated at the final whistle as though they had won, and coach Markus Babbel felt happy with the performance.

"They [the fans] have been through a lot this season," he said. "I think today they deserved a performance and I am very happy that the boys could bring a performance today."

Adam le Fondre forced a turnover which started the move that put the Sky Blues in front.

Anthony Caceres then burst through the middle and picked out skipper Brosque, who fired home his sixth goal against Wanderers from just outside the area.

Wanderers forward Mitchell Duke had two chances to level midway through the half, with keeper Andrew Redmayne saving his first effort and Duke then spurning another from a Baumjohann free kick.

A foul by Brandon O'Neill on Roly Bonevacia gave Wanderers the chance to equalise on 57 minutes.

Baumjohann struck his free kick from just outside the box low and hard and saw the ball deflect past Redmayne for Western Sydney's first goal against their rivals in four games.

The home side were unlucky to see Oriol Riera's header rebound off the woodwork, and late on substitute Abraham Majok beat the offside trap to home in on goal but missed from close range with only Redmayne to beat.

The Sky Blues are 66/1 to win the Asian Champions League Grand Final with Al-Hilal 7/1 and Kashima Antlers priced at 8/1.

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Corica wants repeat display

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica has called for a repeat performance from his side in Saturday's derby, after praising their 3-3 Asian Champions League draw with Shanghai SIPG.

The Sky Blues are up against it in their bid to qualify for the knockout stage of the ACL, having picked up just two points from their first three games.

Three times they took the lead against the Chinese giants, only to be pegged back each time – finally by Elkeson's 89th-minute effort.

They will go into their return fixture in Shanghai later this month bottom of Group H and knowing a defeat would end their hopes of progressing.

Though they were made to pay for individual errors at Jubilee Oval, the overall display left Corica encouraged.

"I think if we play like that against any A-League team we will destroy them," said the coach. "That's what we want, we have improved, we're getting better, we've got players back now and we have good options off the bench."

The Sky Blues need to beat Western Sydney on Saturday to keep alive their faint hopes of winning the A-League Premier's Plate for a third consecutive season.

Leaders Perth, who host Newcastle on Sunday, enter the round with a six-point buffer.

Sydney are unbeaten in their last five A-League derbies and have lost just one of the last 16 league and FFA Cup games against their cross-town rivals in the last five years.

Defender Michael Zullo is set to miss the derby after picking up a hamstring injury during the second half of the Shanghai match.

The Sky Blues are 4/5 to win the game against Western Sydney, who are 3/1, with the draw 3/1.

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Thurgate’s first goal in Jets win

Teenager Angus Thurgate claimed his first A-League goal to give Newcastle Jets a 3-2 win over Western Sydney.

The home side ended a two-game losing streak and backed up coach Ernie Merrick's decision to turn to youth for the final four rounds.

With their chances of a Finals Series spot all but gone, Merrick had indicated he would build for the future.

He handed Thurgate his first appearance since round 19 and saw the 19-year-old decide the game when he buried a shot into the top corner with eight minutes left.

He swooped on a loose ball after the Wanderers defence had failed to clear the danger.

It came eight minutes after the visitors had equalised thanks to Keanu Baccus' fierce strike that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

Oriol Riera thought he had put the visitors in front in the seventh minute when he slotted home a rebound but was flagged for offside.

Rashid Mahazi put Wanderers ahead just before the interval at McDonald Jones Stadium, heading home past a static defence.

Irish striker Roy O'Donovan, having missed a golden chance in the first half, brought the Jets level on 63 minutes with a powerful shot.

The Jets took the lead soon after with a freakish goal from a corner. Dimitri Petratos curled the ball in and keeper Vedran Janjetovic, caught out at his near post, could only push the ball into the net.

The win completed a first clean sweep for the Jets against Wanderers following a 2-0 triumph in round five and 5-1 rout in round 17.

But Merrick had some consoling words for his opposite number Markus Babbel.

"He is a good coach and when he puts his mark on the team by signing the type of players he wants, and when they move into the new training premises and he gets money for a big marquee player, I think they will do really well," he said. "Hopefully we are up there with them next year."

"We will start building now for next year and we have some good talent out there."

Western Sydney are 7/2 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 7/10 with the draw 3/1.

Wanderers are 16/1 to win 1-0.

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Ninkovic goal settles Big Blue

A deflected goal from Milos Ninkovic in injury time gave Sydney FC a 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at the SCG.

The Sky Blues claimed a fourth win in five outings to keep alive their chances of winning the minor premiership.

It gave Steve Corica's side a four-point cushion in their battle with Victory for a top-two finish that would give them a shot at Asian Champions League football next year.

Having lost both their previous Big Blues clashes of the season, Sydney FC looked set to have to share the spoils this time.

It was only when Ninkovic's effort deflected off the legs of a defender and past keeper Matt Acton that they secured what was their fourth win in five games.

The loss for Victory, which effectively ended their chances of finishing in top spot, was compounded by a suspected serious knee injury for Terry Antonis.

The midfielder will have scans on Monday that will determine whether he can play again this season.

Sydney FC, having already been denied a goal when Adam le Fondre's chipped shot bounced off the top of the crossbar, took the lead in the sixth minute.

Brandon O'Neill started the move with a sliding tackle on Kosta Barbarouses and he finished it with a rocket left-foot shot past keeper Lawrence Thomas.

They only led for nine minutes, though, as Keisuke Honda threaded a ball through for Barbarouses to dink over the advancing Andrew Redmayne for the equaliser.

O'Neill brought a fingertip save out of Acton 17 minutes from time with another shot from distance.

The winner came when Ninkovic latched onto a Siem de Jong cross, the Serbian's effort deflecting to trickle into the net.

The Sky Blues are 7/10 to win their next game against Western Sydney, who are 7/2 with the draw 3/1.

Sydney are 17/2 to win the game 1-0.

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Merrick looking to youngsters

Newcastle Jets head coach Ernie Merrick will turn to youth for the rest of the A-League season.

The Jets, who reached the Grand Final last year after finishing runners-up in the league, will change tack after seeing their top-six hopes virtually ended.

Defeats in their last two games to Central Coast and Wellington have left Merrick's side seven points off the Finals Series places.

It would take an unlikely series of results for them to catch either Melbourne City or Adelaide United over the final four rounds.

So, Merrick aims to see what his younger players can do over the rest of the campaign and Joey Champness is in contention to start against Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, as is Angus Thurgate.

Merrick may give a chance to Australia U17 international Jack Simmons against Wanderers – he would be the third-youngest debutant in the club's history if he makes the team.

The Jets have Johnny Koutroumbis and Ivan Vujica available again after they returned from a fortnight in Cambodia with the Olyroos squad.

Merrick said: "The focus is, we've got four games to play, we'll be looking at some youngsters. We've got 17 players signed, out of those 17 the average age is pretty young, and up-and-coming.

"To have 17 players to coach for another year and build on that, I think we're in a good position and there's a lot of good, young talent here…our bench will change slightly to give them a chance."

Speaking of the club's league position, Merrick said: "When you're in a situation of waiting for other teams to lose matches, I don't think you're in a good place. I can't see anyone losing that many games, two more games than us."

Newcastle Jets are 10/11 to win their game against Western Sydney, who are 5/2, with the draw 3/1.

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