Macarthur edges closer to finals dream
Macarthur FC are one step closer to securing a finals berth in their inaugural season, coming away with a tight 2-1 win over Western United.
Relocated to Leichhardt due to Melbourne’s lockdown, classy first-half finishes from Markel Susaeta and Mark Milligan put the Bulls in the box-seat before Iker Guarrotxena’s bullet-header created a nervous finish for the “visitors”.
Should Perth fail to beat Brisbane on Wednesday, Ante Milicic’s side will become the third straight expansion side to play finals in their first A-League season – achieving the same feat as their rivals Western Sydney in 2013 and their opponents who did so last season.
Not only does it put them on the precipice of finals, but momentarily in the box-seat for a home elimination final, having climbed into fourth place.
However, for Western, their eye turns to the off-season after a seventh-straight defeat -continuing a disappointing end to a once promising season.
It felt like another case of déjà vu as Macarthur piled on the hurt early with two quick-fire goals.
To United’s credit, they stayed in the fight, showcasing their trademark grit which was lacking throughout much of their winless run.
Coach Mark Rudan will get one more chance to take a look at his squad on Saturday when they take on the Central Coast Mariners before he enacts a “reset” of the side.
As Rudan teased, the kids were given a chance as young trio Adisu Bayew, Dalibor Markovic and debutant Manny Aguek all came on after halftime – giving United fans a look into the future.
Following a cagey opening, where chances were few and far between, the Bulls took the game by the horns.
Matt Derbyshire’s clever lay-off found Susaeta who took a nice touch around Aaron Calver before drilling the ball past Ryan Scott for the opener.
Minutes later, Milligan’s one-two with Derbyshire gave the skipper an opening to fire an unstoppable strike into the top-corner, doubling Macarthur’s lead just after half-an-hour.
When the result seemed a certainty, Guarroxtena’s bullet-header got United back into the contest but it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback as the Bulls held firm to come away with the win.
Macarthur held on to seal the three points. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
Bulls all but eliminate rivals
Not only does Macarthur’s win put them only days away from a maiden finals appearance but it has all but sealed the fate of their nearest rivals.
Despite winning yesterday, Western Sydney have all but been eliminated from finals contention – making it a fourth straight season without finals for Carl Robinson’s team.
It’s a nice little bit of bragging rights for the Bulls, having also not lost in their clashes against the Wanderers this season.
Another game, another home-ground
Western United are reeling in the frequent flyer points for away and home games this season.
Due to Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak, the game was relocated to Leichhardt Oval but remained a “home game” for Western despite playing in Macarthur’s home state.
Monday night’s game was not only the eighth different stadium they’ve played at in consecutive games but also made it the fifth different home ground Western has played at this season – having already played at Kardinia Park, Mars Stadium, AAMI Park and York Park.
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