Macarthur reiterate their unwavering resilience with hearty derby win

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Macarthur travelled to Victoria to face both Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the space of six days. Two 3-1 losses later, a return to Campbelltown Stadium begged them for three points.

Their miniature hot streak of two wins on the spin was halted by a draw with Newcastle Jets. A blip that would become a rut when their trip down South brought a double defeat.

Six goals conceded in two games saw the Bulls momentarily fall to fifth before their home clash with the Wanderers. As if their congested schedule and interstate travel wasn’t enough, the unforgiving, torrential rain soaking New South Wales and beyond prevented them from even touching a football pitch once they’d got back.

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With their Western neighbours on a high after their 2-0 victory over Sydney FC, Ante Milicic’s men had their work cut out for them. So, just as they have done on an array of occasions this season, they rolled up their sleeves and rose to the challenge.

“The most pleasing aspect is winning a game of football after the week that we’ve had. We played one of the best teams in the competition on Wednesday, travelled on Thursday, weren’t able to train on Friday,” said Milicic after the game.

“To put on a performance like that with a two day turnaround…credit to those footballers. Because that’s not the first time that they’ve shown that kind of mentality.”

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He refers to a number of situations stretching as far back as the opening rounds of the season. Captain Ulises Dávila, who scored twice and whose smile whilst doing so was telling of the struggles he has had, was injured gruesomely in the third match of the campaign. He was joined either before or quickly after by Tomi Juric, Tommy Oar, Craig Noone, Al Hassan Toure, Jordon Mutch and Charles M’Mombwa. A nightmare run of injuries through which the Bulls defied odds and continued their charge to sit atop the A-League Men’s table.

Macarthur were also one of the worst-hit clubs in relation to the outbreak of COVID-19 that ravaged this campaign. They would suffer the third-longest break from football as a result of the virus, forced into isolation for 36 days.

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“I’ve seen earlier this year we’ve come back from 2-0 down and got a result, I have seen us play 70 minutes a goal down and a player down and still get three points. So it’s no coincidence. It’s a special group of footballers,” Milicic said.

Macarthur lost their top five goalscorers, top three appearance makers, and four out of their top five assist makers from last season. But, when asked about he and his coaching staff’s role in the impressive attitude and outlook displayed by his team, Milicic was characteristically swift to heave his players into a positive spotlight.

“The culture of the football club is player driven. They set really high standards, we just provide the framework,” he said.

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“We’re very fortunate that the players are so great at working together both on and off the field. Particularly the new players that we brought into the club, there was probably a higher turnover than I would have liked from last season, but we’ve brought in some serious professionals in there.”

Mercifully, Milicic and his men have a week until their next fixture, away to Central Coast Mariners. Incidentally, the team against which Dávila suffered his lengthy knee injury.

“Unfortunately, early on in the season Uli picked up an injury and missed a lot of games. Now he’s slowly finding that form back and his fitness aswell. We’re delighted to have him at our football club, he’s a fantastic character and was superb tonight,” Milicic said.

Feature Image Credit: Macarthur FC

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Tom Macrae
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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