New faces still gelling as Macarthur take a point against Wellington

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Macarthur’s curtain-raiser was underwhelming in its eventual location, weather, and outcome. But head coach Ante Milicic is taking the positives from the first outing for his side of new faces.

Plenty has been made of the personnel transformation that took place throughout the off-season at Macarthur FC, and to expect an immediate spark of footballing unity from the eight players brought in may have been naïve.

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“I’m still trying to get to know the players, of course,” said Milicic, following a rainy stalemate at Macarthur’s temporary shelter in Newcastle. A match in which six of Macarthur’s new signings made their league debuts for the club.

“I’m still getting to know the players, they’re still getting to know me, and I’m sure the longer that we work on the training field together, you’ll see a bit more cohesion within the playing group,” he said.

“I’m still looking for that right combination.”

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The Bulls’ performance under the lights at McDonald Jones Stadium did, at times, smell of a team of new faces lacking in understanding.

Cross after hopeful cross flew over the head of lonely line-leading Lachlan Rose, and the frequent isolation of the advancing James Meredith left Macarthur scratching their heads trying to break down an impressively rigid and organised Wellington Phoenix block.

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New star-man Ulises Dávila struggled to get on the ball and create, whilst Craig Noone’s curious deployment as a wing back in Milicic’s back five limited his attacking freedom. A defect particularly evident in a disappointing first half for the “home” team.

“That was the thing I was slightly disappointed about in the first half; we got pinned back a bit too much when we didn’t need to be,” he said.

“We haven’t played the games that we wanted; we’ve only had a few friendly games against A-league Men’s opposition leading into the season.

“We played four games and lost all four and conceded a large number of goals. So, I understand that in the back of the players’ minds perhaps they were slightly hesitant.”

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A slightly slow start has proved to be too little to discourage Milicic and his players as they look toward the rest of the season.

“The boys are disappointed not to get maximum points, but after speaking to a couple of them in there, they know that we’re on the right track and they’re encouraged,” Milicic said.

“We’ve got a lot of improvement in us. That’s clear for everyone to see.”

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The Bulls will face Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday, November 27.

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

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Tom Macraehttp://medium.com/@macraetomr23
Communications undergrad at Western Sydney University covering Macarthur FC in the 2021/22 season. Newcastle United. Jack Grealish fangirl.

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