21/02/2024

Clayton Lewis and Matt Millar were all smiles in Macarthur's victory over Adelaide. Photo Credit: A-League Men/Twitter

After a 4-0 victory in their AFC Cup game against Shan United in Thailand on Thursday, Macarthur returned to Campbelltown with hopes of maintaining their undefeated start to the A-League Men season.

Matt Millar would notch up his 100th A-League Men appearance overall and star for the home-side at left-wing, a change from his usual defensive duties at right back, in the 4-3 victory.

It is a move that Macarthur coach Mile Sterjovski described as a one game move to see if it made a difference.

“We know what he’s capable of and he did well and we keep the momentum going,” Sterjovski said.

Valere Germain would get the Bulls off to a fast start, getting a tap on a Clayton Lewis free kick in the eighth minute, highlighting a dominating opening 10 minutes for the hosts.

Zach Clough would level the score for Adelaide after receiving a cross inside the box from Nestory Irankunda in the 17th minute.

Millar would give Macarthur the lead for a second time, getting through Adelaide’s high line and rocketing a shot past Joe Gauci to make it 2-1.

Giuseppe Bovalina would score his first A-League Men goal to level the scores again for Adelaide on the stroke of half-time, giving Carl Veart something to be excited about who spent most of the first half visibly frustrated and angry on the sideline.

“Giuseppe is a young player who has come through our youth team, and he’s got the opportunity this season,” Veart said.

“He’s working hard and he’s learning his role.

“I’m happy for him to get a goal, but I think he’d be more happier if he had the three points.”

Veart was also quite critical of his side’s first half performance.

“I wasn’t very happy at half time. That first 45 minutes was most probably our worst 45 minutes of the season.

“It was even worse than what we put up against Sydney.

“The boys responded well (to start the second half), but 10 to 15 minutes is not good enough.

“They have to play the whole half and we knew if we played the way we did for that first 10 to 15 minutes and kept working for the whole half, we would have had a lot better result for ourselves.”

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The visitors enjoyed a strong start to the second half, and Clough would earn himself a brace to give Adelaide its first lead of the game in the 53rd minute.

Jake Hollman once again leveled the score to make it 3-3 in the 83rd minute, setting the remaining stage of the game on a knife’s edge for both sides to take three points.

Macarthur’s captain Ulises Davila would tilt that edge in the hosts favour giving them a 4-3 lead, in what would be his final action of the game as he was substituted for Ali Auglah, sealing the victory.

The victory saw Macarthur remain undefeated domestically this season, and Sterjovski was thankful for the club and staff around him, given the busy schedule his side has faced.

“It’s been difficult to manage, but I’ve got a wonderful staff who help me make the decisions and to plan trips.

“It’s just about choosing the right players at the right times.

“Traveling to Asia isn’t easy. The conditions are very hot, humid, a nine-hour flight on top of that, it’s not easy.  

“The mentality of the players is great.”

Conceding goals in stoppage time is starting to become a worrying trend for Macarthur, who have conceded four goals already this season in domestic matches.

It is something Sterjovski has noticed, and said it was concerning.

“I think any coach would be concerned with that,” he said.

“We work on it, but things like that happen. It could be due to fatigue, it could be a number of reasons.

“It’s something that’s concerning but we’re always working on things to improve.”

For Adelaide, it marked the second time they have had a game delayed 24 hours due to continental commitments for their opponents.

When Veart was asked whether he felt it was having an impact on his side, he reiterated the importance of other A-League clubs helping each other shine in Asian competitions.

“No, not at all. As I think I’ve said before, it’s important that we as A-League clubs support clubs that are playing in Asia,” Veart said.

“We need them to have success for the league, so we need to do what’s right.”

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