Youth shines through as Sydney FC end Macarthur’s unbeaten run

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Sydney FC put in a classy, professional performance to come away 3-0 winners against Macarthur at Campbelltown Stadium. The sophisticated style of football that history has persuaded us to expect from the five-time champions shone through with standout performances from their young attackers.

Coming off of their worst start to an A-League Men’s season in over 10 years, a trip to the dodgy-pitched home ground of the unbeaten league leaders certainly wouldn’t have been high on Steve Corica’s Christmas list. Especially when you mix in the absence of their two most experienced forwards: Adam Le Fondre and Bobô, plus their X-factor attackers Kosta Barbarouses and Elvis Kamsoba.

Thrown into the deep end was 19 year-old centre forward Patrick Wood, alongside Trent Buhagiar and Max Burgess. Despite the mere five league starts to Wood’s name, it took him only 11 minutes to start swimming.

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He would also claim the assist for Buhagiar’s goal that sealed the victory in the second half.

“Tonight just goes to show that with five or six players out, we still have very good depth in our squad. We believe in our young boys,” Corica said after the Boxing Day Derby.

“They have had to bide their time to get opportunities but I think they’ve shown tonight that they produce goods and that’s all we want from them.”

Each member in the relatively inexperienced and youthful front three deployed by the Sky Blues claimed both a goal and an assist in the absence of some of their finest players.

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“They stood up tonight. Obviously with the amount of players out with COVID and injuries that’s what I needed to see from them,” said the smiling Sydney coach.

“They really did a fantastic job. All three of them. I can’t fault them. Work rate was outstanding, their forward runs and their pace. When you get goals and learn from them, that’s confidence for me, the team, and definitely for themselves. It shows that they can do it.”

Sydney’s showcase of young talent only deepened as the game went on, when 17-year-old Adrian Segecic and Corey Hollman were introduced for their A-League Men debuts.

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The victors weren’t the only side to provide a stage for their young talent, with Ante Milicic keen to advertise the efforts of his young players amidst the Bulls’ injury crisis.

“We’ve gone through a real rough month but we’ve given minutes to some good young players and they’ve done well. They should be really proud of the efforts they’ve put in,” Milicic said.

Lachlan Rose held his spot as Macarthur’s lone striker in what’s been a whirlwind season for the new fan-favourite, and Jake Hollman was handed his first start of the season.

“The more minutes we keep getting these – well I still call them kids but they’re 22-23 – they’ll keep learning and they’ll get better,” Milicic said.

“The more minutes and experience they get, the more match fitness they get. And then they can execute what you want for any given game. I think that will be very important.”

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From day dot, Milicic has seen his side’s position in the table and their unbeaten run as superficial statistics that are over-analysed and overrated. His reserved but visible acceptance with Macarthur’s eventual defeat shone through in his tone.

“It’s a little bit disappointing, the performance, but as I say we’ve had a good start to the year. We’ll regroup, dust ourselves off and comeback,” he said

“It’s one game, it’s still early in the season. And as I said: we lost to a good team; it just wasn’t our night.”

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Macarthur now sit second in the table, trailing Melbourne Victory by only a two goal difference. Sydney FC, meanwhile, have risen to sixth.

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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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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