22/05/2024

Macarthur celebrate one of the two goals scored against Adelaide. (Photo: Macarthur FC/Twitter)

Shutting down Ulises Davila was a clear plan from the visiting Adelaide United, with the Macarthur captain on the receiving end of two fouls in the opening two minutes, and four in the opening seven.

The third foul would force Reds keeper Joe Gauci into a save, as the free kick would meet the head of Jonathan Aspropotamitis, who would put it on target before it was cleared out of play.

In the 10th minute, Davila would go down and play no further part in the match, as he would be replaced by Charles M’Mombwa.

“He’s a big loss, he’s our captain, one of our talismans, if not the talisman in the team,” coach Dwight Yorke said post-game when asked about the loss of Davila from the match.

“We know when Uli plays he gives us a sense of control in that sort of middle area, which is a crucial part of the football pitch.

“Him going out, [it had] to make us adjust a little bit from a tactical point of view.

“Lucky enough we’ve got experience in there. We got young Charles to come in there, we know he has energy. Maybe not quite the sort of attributes of playing that role, but we know what we were going to get from him and so we had to change a little bit.

“That’s part and parcel of the game from a tactical point of view. It helps me as a coach because you don’t always have it your way.”

After the sub, the momentum was in clear favour of the visitors, as they put the pressure on and had a couple of fantastic opportunities, with the shots narrowly missing the goal.

Unable to capitalise on the opportunities they had created, Adelaide would concede first through Daniel Arzani, who would slot one past Gauci in the 27th minute. It was a lead the hosts would take into the half-time break after an equaliser was ruled out for offside.

Once the second half got underway, Adelaide would put the pressure on, but was still unable to capitalise on the Macarthur defence. A goal was ruled out for a foul in addition to a couple of clear misses.

This allowed Al Hassan Toure, Arzani, and Lachlan Rose to go to work the other way, with Rose doubling the advantage in the 57th minute to seal the three points for Macarthur.

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What was most troubling for Macarthur was the holes that popped up in defence, as it gave away a number of clear opportunities that Adelaide could not capitalise on. 

Had the Reds done so, it could have been a very different result. 

It was a similar story last week against the Brisbane Roar in a game that ended in a nil-all draw, as Macarthur and Brisbane both failed to capitalise much like Adelaide United this week.

For Yorke however, he is very happy with what his side has shown defensively across the Australia Cup and the opening of the A-League Men season.

“Defensively, we’ve been solid from the very day I walked through the door,” Yorke said.

“I’m sure that many of you have followed what we have done and achieved in that period of time in the Cup competition, where we scored 19 goals and only conceded two.

“Here we are again into the new campaign and defensively, we had to defend pretty much for a period of time during the game and this is something we have wanted to introduce into the team.

“A lot of people think that we are an attacking style playing team, which we are. We’ve got a lot of players going forward, but ultimately you need to defend if you want to play attacking.

“[I’m] extremely happy from the goalkeeper to the back four. Overall defensively we’ve been really, really solid, and today we needed a defensive performance to overcome a real team like Adelaide today.”

When pressed further for details on how the defence is performing given a number of key chances that have been given up to both Brisbane and Adelaide through the opening two games, Yorke was quick to brush it aside.

“I’m sure that I could be critical about my team and my defensive unit, but how could I possibly?

“Yes, there’s always ifs and buts, and teams could score but from a defensive point of view, you still got to be happy with a clean sheet.

“We’ve played seven games, we’ve conceded two goals and scored 21 goals. When you look at that, you can’t have it all your way in football. You’ve got to ride your luck and maybe it’s our lucky time at the moment.

“I think as the season progresses from a defensive point we’ll get better, and then that will allow us to play how we want to play going forward.”

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