Looking to build momentum after its win over the Mariners, and ahead of a must-win AFC Cup against Phnom Penh at home, Macarthur FC welcomed John Aloisi’s Western United to Campbelltown.
The Bulls had been using a counter-attacking strategy to start the season, but delivered a very attacking strategy against the Victorian side, targeting Jed Drew on the left-hand side to drive their attack.
“We want to play our football and control games,” Macarthur coach Mile Sterjovski said when asked about the change in tactics.
“Sometimes you play against oppositions that maybe keep the ball a bit more and have that quality.
“We try and break on the counter attack in those situations.
“Today we had a bit more control and I felt like there was times when we broke them and we should have put chances away.”
Despite not scoring a first-half goal, the tactic was quite successful, with Drew creating sublime opportunities.
Western United goalkeeper Tom Heward-Belle had a massive save to deny Raphael Borges Rodrigues to keep the scores level in the 18th minute after an inch-perfect cross from Drew, highlighting the first half the 20 year old was having.
It was a cagey-affair to begin the second half, with Western United’s best chance of the game coming in the 59th minute as Josh Risdon forced a diving save from Filip Kurto to keep the scores level.
The 76th minute would see Drew substituted out for Ulises Davila, who immediately made an impact and breathed new life into the game as Macarthur chased a result, creating two chances, both of which resulted in corners.
With the game in the balance, Ali Auglah would score his first A-League Men goal, sending the Campbelltown crowd into a euphoric eruption of noise, to give Macarthur a 1-0 victory in the 93rd minute, following on from Kearyn Baccus’ first A-League Men goal last week against the Mariners.
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For Sterjovski, who’s side remains undefeated in the league, he thought it was a good performance from Macarthur.
“If it wasn’t for their keeper, we should have been one or two up [in the first half],” Sterjovski said.
“I love the characters of the players to keep going, to keep pushing right to the end and I thought we deserved the win.”
Speaking after the game, Western United coach John Aloisi was disappointed about the result.
“I didn’t feel that we deserved to lose that game,” Aloisi said.
“It was always going to be difficult after the result from last week. We were a little anxious at the start of the game and they had their opportunities.
“In the second half, we controlled the game really well. We had plenty of good openings, good chances and on another day we come away with three points and not zero.”
Western United came into the match after a 5-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers last weekend, and Aloisi was happy with how his side responded.
“I felt the whole week was good. The response was good and the reaction of the players was good.
“It’s not easy when you lose like that, and then I felt today they responded really well.
“I think most people would have seen that we played pretty well.
“There’s still a lot of things to improve on and we know that and we’re working on it.
“We created some clear cut opportunities that if we went ahead, I think we probably would have won the game.”
Macarthur next play Phnom Penh on Thursday night in the return fixture from its 3-0 loss in Cambodia on Match Day 3, and Sterjovski knows what is at stake on Match Day 4 of the AFC Cup.
“We have to win this game to give us a good chance to progress through to the next round,” Sterjovski said.
“We’ll see what the medical staff has said after today’s game and see how everyone has pulled up and we’ll move forward.”