Macarthur FC have opened their A-League account in style defeating Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 away in front of a respectable crowd at Bankwest Stadium.
In what was a fantastic advert for the league and in an end to end clash, Spainard Beñat Etxebarria scored the loan goal of the game through a set-piece in the 72nd minute to give the Bulls the bragging rights in the “Western Derby”.
Coaches Carl Robinson (WSW) and Ante Miličić (Macarthur FC) both made their A-League debuts after leaving Newcastle Jets and the Matildas respectively.
Team news saw WSW bring in the new Scottish duo of Ziggy Gordon and Graham Dorrans along while new signings Australian duo James Troisi and Bernie Ibini also started.
Macarthur went full strength for their inaugural match with Matt Derbyshire leading the line, while notable Spaniard recruits Markel Susaeta and Beñat Etxebarria warmed the pine for the visitors. Former Melbourne Victory captain Mark Milligan returned to the A-League for the first time since 2018 wearing the armband for the Bulls.
Before kick-off Fox Sports analyst Mark Bosnich praised A-League debutant Lachlan Rose for making it into the starting XI. Rose coming from Blacktown Spartans FC (NPL NSW) impressed in pre-season with four goals for the Bulls while on trial, including one against the Olyroos which earned him a contract with the new team on the A-League block. Fellow Fox Sports commentator Adam Peacock offered the following comparison on looks. You be the judge!
Ziggy Gordon was only a minute into his WSW career before he copped a shot square in the mouth off the boot of Derbyshire.
There was mild appeals from Macarthur players for handball but VAR confirmed it was square in the gob with no hands in play.
Right on the ten minute mark a spot-kick was awarded to the home side after Graham Dorrans launched a shot into Aleksandar Jovanovic which was originally given to be a handball infringement.
Jovanovic protested that his arms were tucked into his chest but was given a yellow card for his outburst at referee Kurt Ams.
After getting the word in the earpiece Ams was advised to go to the VAR check. After closer inspection VAR confirmed no penalty and Jovanovic’s yellow ticket was rescinded.
Bad luck continued for the Wanderers when Simon Cox went down in the box but was deemed an act of simulation. Cox’s pleas went unheard to the referee which lead to him given the first slice of cheese for the half. Cox launched for home but his efforts were palmed away by Macarthur’s keeper Adam Federici.
The first real chance of the first-half saw Ivan Franjic send in a hopeful ball to Moudi Najjar but Najjar’s header was over the bar. Rose was involved in the action soon after when his long range effort was off the mark.
Najjar made it two missed headers shortly after, failing to get the best out of Rose’s cross when his header just went wide.
The Wanderers finished the stronger of the sides with two quick shots from Cox and Bernie Ibini but their efforts went for nil.
Half time WS Wanderers 0 – Macarthur FC 0
Graham Dorrans opened the second half with a challenge on Denis Genreau that did not go unseen and earned himself a yellow card.
Troisi had a great chance after his effort was palmed away well by Federici who was already having a busy night.
Rose nearly capped off a perfect debut when he combined in the attack scoring the opening goal, but up went the offside flag much to the dismay of Bulls fans and Rose himself.
Speaking of debuts Loïc Puyo despite impressing in midfield was subbed early on 58th minute for Susaeta after getting busted wide open courtesy of Ibini’s header hitting the Frenchman’s head.
Ibini was withdrawn shortly after his efforts went to none in favour of last year’s German recruit Nicolai Müller. Personally for me Müller looks like Gohan from anime series Dragon Ball Z!
Former Athletic Bilbao central midfielder Beñat Etxebarria entered the game on 67th minute replacing Rose.
Beñat finally broke the goalless drought with just under 20 minutes to play when his free kick deflected off the WSW defence and roll past Margush to make it 1-0 for the Bulls.
Susaeta was the second Spanish player to be in the action but not how he would of liked after colliding with CB Tass Mourdoukoutas.
Federici was outstanding tonight denying Kwame Yeboah late at the death and was a vital asset to the Bulls in his A-League debut after stints in England.
Full time Western Sydney Wanderers 0 – Macarthur FC 1
A fantastic game of mid-week football tonight with new boys Macarthur ringing the cow bells much to the dismay of WSW fans. Macarthur will now turn their focus to their first game at Campbelltown Stadium to Central Coast Mariners. WSW will now travel away to Newcastle Jets next Friday night.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Daniel Margush (GK), Daniel Georgievski, Ziggy Gordan, Tass Mourdoukoutas, Dylan McGowan (C), Tate Russell, Graham Dorrans, Keanu Baccus, James Troisi, Simon Cox, Bernie Ibini
Substitutes : Jordan O’ Doherty, Kwame Yeboah, Kosta Grozos, Nicolai Müller, Patrick Ziegler, Thomas Aquilina, Oliver Kalac (GK)
Macarthur FC : Adam Federici, Mark Milligan (c), Aleksandar Jovanovic, Ivan Franjic, Denis Genreau, Loic Puyo, James Meredith, Moudi Najjar, Lachlan Rose Matt Derbyshire
Substitutes : Nick Suman (GK), Antony Golec, Beñat Etxebarria, Michael Ruhs, Jake Hollman, Antonis Martis, Markel Susaeta
Featured image: Getty Images