Persistent Wanderers come from behind twice in compelling draw with Bulls
Macarthur FC remain without a home A-League win in 2020/21 after twice conceding their lead over Western Sydney Wanderers in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday night.
The see-sawing clash saw the Bulls pull ahead twice through headed goals to centre backs Aleksandar Jovanovic and Aleksandar Šušnjar, but second-half strikes to Wanderers midfielder Graham Dorrans and Simon Cox saw the Red and Black earn a point, and go five games undefeated.
Ziggy Gordon was heavily involved in the opening quarter of an hour of play. The Wanderers defender twice denied Matt Derbyshire with committed defensive blocks in the box before Jovanovic rose higher than Gordon from a corner routine to head Macarthur into the lead.
Adam Federici had little to do in the first half but produced one key block to keep the Wanderers from equalising, athletically pushing a whipped Tate Russell strike around the post.
Derbyshire was twice denied by Gordon early in the first stanza and deep into first-half added time he was thwarted once more, but this time by VAR as his expertly struck volley off Beñat Etxebarria's lofted pass was rightly chalked offside.
Dorrans equalised in the second half after an Etxebarria slip and missed tackle by Ivan Franjic exposed Federici well off his line, allowing the Wanderers midfielder to drive from defence into attack and loop the ball over the Bulls 'keeper, sealing a brilliant solo goal and invigorating the away fans.
But Macarthur rapidly restored their lead through Jovanovic's centre back partner Šušnjar, who like Jovanovic leapt above all others to hammer a header off the post and over the goal line.
Trailing once again, the Wanderers refused to drop their heads and produced a moment of pure chaos in Macarthur's defensive box, which saw Federici make an incredible saves to deny Bruce Kamau and Cox blast his resulting shot off his own player, before Russell rattled the crossbar.
The Bulls survived by the skin of their teeth but their relief was fleeting. Two minutes after the Wanderers' triple-miss Keanu Baccus produced a ridiculous scorpion-kick assist from a James Troisi corner which Cox headed home unmarked at the back post, and the contest was suddenly all square once more.
With scores level and 20 minutes to play both sides felt confident of snatching three points and chances continued to present at either end. But scores remained at 2-2 until the six minutes of additional time ticked by, ensuring the truly entertaining fixture ended with honours shared.
MATCH REPORT: Brisbane Roar 5-2 Melbourne Victory
Two Gordon blocks keep Derbyshire off the scoresheet early
Bulls striker Derbyshire had two early attempts to score, but Gordon was alert to the danger presented by both opportunities and repelled them with aplomb.
The first came from a Markel Susaeta cross into the box. Derbyshire and Gordon rose together for the header and Gordon's touch ensured Daniel Margush was not to be troubled in goal for the Wanderers.
Just minutes later the pair resumed battle; this time the ball appeared in Derbyshire's path on the deck and the Englishman attempted the shot, but Gordon's toe-poke diverted the ball over the byline. Gordon celebrated like any good goalscorer after the block, adding to Derbyshire's frustration at the decision to award a goal kick.
Jovanovic rises over Gorden to net from Bulls corner
Gordon's intervention had denied Bulls striker Derbyshire two genuine goalscoring chances throughout the first 15 minutes of play before Jovanovic eventually got the better of the Wanderers defender, rising above Gordon to put Macarthur ahead from a corner routine.
Etxebarria found Jovanovic with a floated ball to the front post and the Bulls defender rose between Gordon and Cox, flicking a header across goal toward the back stick.
Margush attempted to get a fingertip on the ball but Jovanovic's header looped over the diving 'keeper and into the back of the net.
MATCH REPORT: Adelaide United 1-2 Perth Glory
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Russell strikes and Federici saves with athletic right-handed block
Federici faced just one shot on target in the first half but the Socceroos 'keeper was switched on to keep that shot out, getting across to his right to deny Russell a well-taken left-footed strike from outside the box.
Russell whipped his strike from the right-hand side of the box toward the bottom left corner after cutting in around Tommy Oar and James Meredith.
The shot was a good one and Federici was challenged, but he rose to that challenge with a diving save.
Derbyshire scores but the flag goes up
Macarthur's frontman was very busy in the opening 45 minutes, but a goal proved elusive for the Englishman who scored from an offside position deep into first-half stoppage time.
Etxebarria produced the assist once more with a lofted pass over the Wanderers' defence. The ball bounced once before Derbyshire drove his shot into the back of the net.
But the striker's joy was to be short lived as the flag was raised. Derbyshire was rightly adjudged offside, getting ahead of the defensive line moments before Etxebarria played the pass.
Federici caught well off his line as Dorrans dinks Wanderers back in it
An Etxebarria slip in an attacking position sent Dorrans onto the loose ball, and after Ivan Franjic's sliding tackle missed the mark Dorrans charged into his offensive half with the goal at his mercy.
Federici was near the halfway line when Macarthur turned the ball over and as he retreated toward his box Dorrans took the shot, dinking the ball past Federici into an open goal off the back of an excellent solo run.
Šušnjar the second defensive scorer as Macarthur convert from another corner
Same scoring situation, same outcome for Macarthur as Šušnjar ventured forward to head a Bulls corner past Margush and into the back of the net to put the hosts back in front.
This time it was Loïc Puyo with the ball into the box. Patrick Ziegler marked Šušnjar at the back post but the Bulls centre back proved too strong, getting up to cannon a header off the bar and into the back of the net.
Insanity reigns as three Wanderers chances go begging within seconds
A magnificent Troisi cross found Kamau in on goal and a routine finish looked set to follow, but a remarkable Federici save sparked a manic spell of desperate Bulls defending and inefficient Wanderers attack.
Meredith and Kamau battled in the goal mouth as Federici's initial save spilled toward the line. Federici got back to prod the ball to Cox, who shot directly into his own player from a tight angle. The ball then spilled to Russell who thumped his strike off the bar as the Red and Black somehow failed to convert from three quick-fire opportunities.
Baccus scorpion-kick sets up Cox for 2-2
Troisi's corner was struck to the near post and there seemed to be minimal threat coming toward Macarthur's goal before an inventive scorpion-kick from Baccus found Cox unmarked at the back post.
The Wanderers striker stood planted on the spot and brushed his header into the back of the net to give the Wanderers a well-earned equaliser.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne Victory
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Macarthur FC v Adelaide United
Friday, 12 February 20201
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEDT
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
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