Match Report: Macarthur FC 2-2 Western United – Thriller ends in a draw

Nicolas Milanovic Western United

Western United has moved to outright top of the Isuzu UTE A-League Men table with a 2-2 draw against Macarthur FC on Tuesday night.

Team News

With just a 72-hour turnaround from a superb win against Melbourne City, John Aloisi rang the changes for the first time in the A-League Men this season.

There were six changes to the starting XI in total – Tomoki Imai returned from suspension at the back while Jerry Skotadis and Nicolas Milanovic came into the midfield, the latter making his first ever A-League Men start.

A young, pacy front three of Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Dylan Pierias and Christian Theoharous looked to make an impact, while Noah Botic was named on the bench for the first time since joining the club from Hoffenheim. Nikolai Topor-Stanley took the captain’s armband in the absence of both Alessandro Diamanti and Josh Risdon from the starting XI.

First Half

The early proceedings in the match became something of a midfield battle, with neither side really commanding possession or creating many chances in front of goal.

A clinical counter attack in the 16th minute brought about the first goal of the match and the first goal of Milanovic’s senior career.

Western United’s No.26 was involved in the build-up and continued his run into the box to tap into the net from Ben Garuccio’s cross.

Jamie Young was called into action immediately after the kick-off, reacting well to save a strong effort from Macarthur debutant Apostolos Giannou.

Macarthur set about finding an equaliser and left themselves open at the back, with Milanovic picked out again by a cross from Dylan Pierias, but he couldn’t get a good connection on the shot with his weaker right foot.

The home side began to gain a foothold of the possession in the match, and Giannou had a big chance to draw his side level but directed an open header straight into Young’s arms.

Leo Lacroix was inches away from a first A-League Men goal, with a neat corner routine ending in a header for the big centre half but Filip Kurto was equal to it in the Macarthur goal.

Young made another tremendous stop right on the stroke of half-time, plunging to his right and putting two fists through a shot from Jake Hollman.

Second Half

Macarthur introduced Ulises Davila from the bench at half-time, and the Mexican immediately looked to get on the ball and get his side back into the contest.

For the most part, though, the hosts remained limited to half chances on United’s goal while Aloisi’s men created a couple of openings on the break.

One such foray forward ended in some lovely footwork from Connor Pain, but the half-time substitute couldn’t direct his fight-footed shot far enough away from the goalkeeper.

Aloisi made a string of changes around the hour mark, with Aleksandar Prijovic looking lively straight after coming on as he got in behind Macarthur’s defence twice in quick succession.

Neil Kilkenny was another that came off the bench and got to work in midfield, winning the ball back and turning possession forward for United.

Prijovic was rewarded for his threat after coming on, burying his second A-League Men goal with a deadly finish after fellow substitute Lachie Wales put the ball on a plate for him.

The Bulls immediately pulled one back through a substitute of their own in Lachie Rose, who curled in a superb effort from outside the box.

And the hosts stole a point in the final minutes as Leo Lacroix diverted Tomislav Uskok’s header into his own net, with Young just unable to keep it out from close range.

United made one last push for a late winner and Prijovic had a glancing header that flashed wide of the goal, before Dylan Wenzel-Halls had an even better chance to score from close range, but it wasn’t to be as the Green and Black succumbed to its first draw of the season.