Victory lack clinical edge in 3-1 loss to Bulls
Two goals to Matt Derbyshire helped Macarthur FC along the way to securing three points against Melbourne Victory in a 3-1 win at Campbelltown Stadium on Friday night.
Victory amassed a number of genuine chances to score throughout the night but could only find the back of the net once through Elvis Kamsoba on 78 minutes, after the Bulls carved out a two-goal lead thanks to first-half finishes by Derbyshire and left-back James Meredith.
Rudy Gestede threatened for the away side but Macarthur 'keeper Adam Federici had his number, producing a pair of strong saves on either side of half-time to deny the Victory forward what could have been a crucial goal.
A 2-0 advantage at the break seemed to flatten the Bulls on a night Steve Kean's Victory could have found themselves ahead, or at least level on the balance of play. But as the second half ticked to a conclusion it seemed a a draw was on the cards after Kamsoba's finish inspired the visiting side's push to complete the comeback, only for Michael Ruhs to emerge from the bench to drive Macarthur forward in the 89th minute and find Derbyshire to deliver the knockout blow.
The 3-1 win sent Macarthur into second spot on the A-League table - but Ante Milicic's team can't get comfortable in the top two, with five teams lurking below within four points of the Bulls' current total of 35.
The away side crafted a number of promising first-half chances, but found themselves two goals down at the break after Macarthur showed the finishing touch down the other end.
Derbyshire was presented with a gift on four minutes by a slipping Dylan Ryan, whose error at the back opened the space for Macarthur's striker to stroll in to collect the ball and go face-to-face with Matt Acton.
Derbyshire lifted his cross over the outrushing Victory 'keeper to give the Bulls an early advantage.
Gestede found himself on the end of Victory's two best opportunities of the first half. The Benin international received his first chance off a perfectly-placed Jake Brimmer corner, rising above a pair of defenders to direct his header back across goal - but the ball flashed wide of the left-hand upright.
Minutes later Gestede was at it again, after Robbie Kruse sent a cross from the byline toward Kamsoba who failed to make purchase off a diving header. The ball arrived in Gestede's path and he thundered it toward goal - Bulls goalkeeper Federici got his body in the way to deny the away side what seemed an almost certain goal.
Macarthur were denied a second down the other end by the sharp glove-work of Acton after a flurry of action in and around Victory's defensive penalty area. The ball went from right to left and back again as Macarthur's attacking action took place, leading to Jake McGing's shot on goal which was blocked by Ryan in the centre of the box.
But the rebound found its way to Charles M'Mombwa who diverted a close-range shot toward goal. Acton was smart to get a strong glove on the ball, tipping it off the crossbar and away to match Federici's magnificent save down the other end.
Victory remained industrious in attack as Brimmer controlled with his chest and volleyed from outside the box off the left-hand post, before the Bulls found a second in the 39th minute. The goal was converted with relative ease, as McGing fed Meredith into the box with a ball off the right wing to head home his second goal in as many games unmarked in dangerous space.
Lleyton Brooks replaced the injured Kruse midway through the first half and should have made more of a late chance in the first half, electing to poke a volleyed attempt on goal instead of a header off a well-placed Jacob Butterfield lofted pass. A headed attempt would have troubled Federici but, as was the case throughout most of the opening 45, the Victory forward lacked the finishing touch when it mattered most.
Victory emerged from the break to apply a wall of pressure on Macarthur, spending the opening minutes of the second half camped in their final third. A Kamsoba shot off the right side of the penalty box in the 27th minute drifted just wide of the opposite corner of goal, and the Burundian turned provider minutes later to Gestede, who sent a strong header on goal but found Federici's waiting arms once again.
Victory's storming start to the second half looked to be quelled by Macarthur as the home side gained composure leading into the final 15 minutes of play. But instead of putting the result beyond doubt, the Bulls allowed Victory back into the game with a 78th-minute finish to Kamsoba which was more than deserving reward for the forward's efforts.
Brimmer created the opportunity with a ball from midfield to Brooks breaking the Bulls' defensive line, collecting on the left-hand side of the 18-yard box and sizing up the target. Brooks beat Federici but found the bottom of the post - the rebound darted across goal where Kamsoba was waiting to tuck it home.
The stage was set for a Victory comeback, until the hosts provided the finishing blow in the 89th minute of play. After surviving an elongated period of pressure on their defensive line the Bulls broke free through substitute Ruhs, who nicked the ball off Brimmer to bolt through midfield into attack.
Ruhs slid a pass into Derbyshire arriving in the box to take a controlling touch and finish to end all chance of Victory stealing a point at Campbelltown Stadium.
Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Wednesday, May 19 2021
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Perth Glory v Macarthur FC
Sunday, May 23 2021
Venue: HBF Park
Kick-off: 8.15pm AEST
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