Looking to make amends for the 3-nil loss to the champions Sydney FC a few short weeks away at Campbelltown Stadium, the Bulls knew a complete 90 minute performance was needed to ensure they took all three competition points from Kogarah.
Warm Sydney conditions greeted the players on the last day of Summer, and there was plenty of “derby feeling” in the opening exchanges as both teams tried to find their groove.
The Bulls absorbed most of the early pressure from the sky blues, with chances to Barbarouses, Wood and Retre all testing keeper Adam Federici.
In what could be the best assist of the A-League season, it would be the Bulls who landed the first blow. A moment of individual brilliance by Markel Susaeta who danced along Sydney FC’s goal line, beating 5 defenders found Matt Derbyshire who not only found the back of the net to give the Bulls the lead in the 35th minute, but also found himself top of the A-League Golden Boot race.
Only a few minutes later the Derby would take another twist, when Sydney FC’s Paolo Retre would be handed a straight red card for a studs up challenge on Bulls defender Jake McGing.
With the Sky Blues down to 10 men, the Bulls pressed hard to advance their lead heading into the break but couldn’t convert.
While most thought the Bulls would push even harder in the second half to extend their lead, controlling the ball would be the theme. With 63% of possession throughout the match it was clear that Milicic’s men were determined to starve Sydney of the ball and grind out a victory.
With the extra man advantage, the Bulls created plenty of chances in the second stanza with Tommy Oar, Beñat, Puyo, Derbyshire and Genreau all handed chances to push further in front but blazed their chances wide.
Macarthur FC coach Ante Milicic said after the match:
“I felt we needed a second goal and that was the instruction at half time. We knew Sydney had the quality to level the score.”
“I was a little disappointed not to grab the second (goal). We created enough to do so, but at the same time we controlled the ball enough.”
“We probably went a little too far the other way, but we controlled the possession. I’m delighted with the result in the end.”
Speaking on Markel Susaeta’s classy work flirting with the goal line inside the box to setup Matt Derbyshire’s match winning goal, Milicic said:
“I was very pleased for Markel today. He provided that class for Matty (Derbyshire), that individual technique in such a small space of area, against the quality of defenders was a lovely piece of work.”
Macarthur FC now have an seven day break before heading up to Gosford to take on the Central Coast Mariners in a top of the table clash on Monday 8th March.