"This is a club-defining game" - Macarthur make a statement with stunning win over Mariners
In the story of every emerging A-League club there's a game - or moment - which builds the foundation for how the club moves forward, develops its culture and shapes its identity.
In the eyes of FOX Sports analyst Mark Bosnich, that moment came for Macarthur FC in an astounding 2-0 Elimination Final win over Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night.
In 2013, Bosnich witnessed Western Sydney Wanderers defeat Newcastle Jets 3-0 to seal the Premiers Plate in the club's first season of existence. It's a moment which came to the mind of the former Socceroos and Premier League goalkeeper as he witnessed a ten-man Macarthur outfit blitz the heavily-fancied Mariners with a pair of goals scored in 30 minutes of extra time to send the Bulls into the Semi Finals in the club's maiden A-League campaign.
They're the kind of results which Bosnich says every emerging club must notch to start making history of their own in a league full of clubs with rich stories to tell of the glory days gone by.
"You know, every new club in my opinion has a game or a moment which you can say is a club-defining moment," Bosnich said in the moments after full-time at Central Coast Stadium.
"We saw it last season with Western United when they came back against Melbourne Victory (down 2-0 to win 3-2), I can remember the Western Sydney Wanderers in their inaugural season when they won the Premiers Plate at Newcastle.
For me tonight, this is a club-defining game. An amazing performance from Macarthur.
"First season, sixth place coming up against a red-hot Mariners away from home in front of a passionate crowd.
"(Going) down to ten men after dominating in the first half, and then to come back with so much character and so much grit to take out this game deservedly so 2-0.
"Amazing performance, you’ve got to say congratulations to Ante Milicic and his coaching staff, they got it absolutely spot on tonight.
"But those boys… they showed so much character in real trying circumstances."
One Bulls player who caught the eye on Saturday night was 23-year-old Charles M'Mombwa, who put his side into the lead in the first half of additional time.
M'Mombwa put the all-important header on Markel Susaeta's strike which deflected off the post and into his path with 93 minutes on the clock. The Bulls attacker guided his headed attempt on target and Mariners defender Stefan Nigro tried to clear the danger, but could only help the ball off the crossbar and into his own net.
Macarthur goalkeeper Adam Federici was brimming with praise for his "special" teammate post-match.
"He’s a top player," Federici told FOX Sports.
"In training he does it all the time, he’s one of our best finishers so I’m just glad that he’s now transferred that to the pitch and you get to see what we see every day in training.
"He’s a good player, he’s a good talent and to be fair we’ve got quite a few young lads who are up and coming, and they’ve done well to take their opportunities.
But he’s a special one, yeah."
Special seemed to be the word on everyone's mind in the aftermath of Macarthur's Elimination Final victory.
M'Mombwa himself chose to refer to the night in which he played a starring role with the same descriptor Federici used to sum up the talents possessed by the former Central Coast Mariners youth prospect.
"It’s a special night," M'Mombwa said when reflecting on the performance he and his team had just put on in Gosford.
"I’ve worked very hard to get here... to score here against the club that I was (at) in my youth years, that was a very special moment for me that I’ll never forget.
"When the ball gets played out wide, as an attacker you’re trying to score so I just made the run in hoping that the ball would fall to me, and it did, and I’m happy I reacted and put it in."
Match details and ticketing information - Finals Series
Melbourne City v Macarthur FC
Sunday, June 20 2021
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEST
GRAND FINAL: Winner SF 1 v Winner SF2
Saturday, June 26 2021
Note: Fixtures are subject to change. Please check www.a-league.com.au/fixtures for latest updates
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