15/04/2024

Macarthur FC celebrate qualification for the semi-finals of the Australia Cup. (Photo Credit: Macarthur FC/Twitter)

The quarter-final stages of the Australia Cup saw Macarthur host the Wellington Phoenix, giving us a first look at Dwight Yorke in charge of Macarthur against A-League Men’s opposition.

It was a tense affair early on between the two sides, with both sides getting opportunities, but neither side was able to capitalise.

The biggest chance inside the opening 25 minutes fell to Al Hassan Toure, who narrowly put it to the left of the woodwork. However, he would be the one to find the opener in the 42nd minute, slotting it past Oliver Sail on the second touch to give Macarthur a much deserved 1-0 lead heading into half-time.

During the first half, Macarthur was far and away the better of the two sides, dominating the visiting Wellington side and showing a glimpse of what might be to come this season, which could be a scary sight for opponents.

The Bulls were quick to put pressure on the Phoenix when the opposition took possession, forcing turnovers, and turning those into attack very quickly, generating a lot of chances, even if the finishing left a little to be desired.

If the side can improve its finishing, then Macarthur will present a challenge to a lot of teams this season in Yorke’s first season in charge.

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The second half was a frantic back-and-forth contest between the two sides with both having fantastic chances, but neither able to find the back of the net.

With 10 minutes to go, tensions would begin to flare with multiple fouls and cards being awarded to both sides as Macarthur looked to extend the lead, while Wellington tried to find an equaliser.

In the 88th minute, Lachlan Rose would capitalise on a Phoenix error, and shoot it with force past Sail to seal a 2-0 victory for the Bulls, giving Dwight Yorke his first win against an A-League Men’s opposition in a competitive fixture.

Speaking after the match, Al Hassan Toure talked about how life is under Yorke, and why the team was able to perform so well.

“Everyone’s happy,” Toure said.

“We’ve had a strong pre-season [and] everyone’s fit. Everyone’s willing to play.

“With the new coaches coming in, everyone’s adapting to his style. He wants [some] very attacking football.

“It suits our team better because we have a lot of good attacking players that can win games.”

For Ufuk Talay’s Wellington Phoenix side, it has the competitive pre-season cut short, and will now turn their full attention to getting ready for their first match on October 9 against Adelaide United.

A couple of the new signings were on full display for Wellington, and one who stood out was Bulgarian import Bozhidar Kraev, who has impressed Talay since arriving in Wellington.

“He’s adapted quite well [to life in Wellington],” Talay said.

“I think he’s adapted to the way that we play as well, so I think he’s got a good understanding of it which helps.

“He’s a good player. He’s played nearly 30 times for his national team and is only 25, so the only way is up with him.”

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