A brave performance but a harsh defeat summed-up the Bulls frustrating end to the season as Macarthur FC succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at home to Wellington Phoenix on Saturday in the final match of the campaign.
The Bulls outplayed Wellington on the balance of play, mustered eight more shots than the Phoenix, two more on target, commanded almost two-thirds of possession, almost doubled their amount of passes and committed less than half the amount of fouls as the New Zealanders but somehow left empty-handed.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Bulls coach Mile Sterjovski whose team put on the show they promised to their home faithful but couldn’t deliver the victory to send the season off in the fitting style.
“I think the performance tonight was very good,” Sterjovski said. “It was just key moments have let us down in recent weeks. When you have a look at it, we had quite a few key players out which can make quite a difference in those big moments.”
The Bulls suffered a sucker punch after just ten minutes. Against the run of play, the Phoenix broke through the middle with a chance for David Ball however Filip Kurto was more than up to the task, making an impressive save but Oskar Zawada pounced on the loose ball to score. Replays showed that perhaps that goal should have been rubbed-out due to a foul in the build-up.
Kurto made another brilliant save ten minutes later to deny Calumn Elliott from close range before the Bulls shifted momentum. They almost broke the deadlock just before the half hour when a well-worked corner routine eroded Pheonix’s defence, paving the way for Lachlan Rose in the box but his shot was blocked off the line.
Matt Millar came close to drawing level with a solo run into the box in the 40th minute before Jake Hollman’s long-range shot was saved by a well-positioned Oliver Sail on the stroke of half-time.
The Bulls continued to surge forward in search of an equaliser and almost hit the back of the net in some style when Jerry Skotadis shot from distance just before the hour.
Mile Sterjovski threw strikers Bachana Arabuli and Jason Romero into the contest shortly after, adding more numbers to Macarthur’s attack. The pair caused plenty of panic inside the Phoenix box but the vital goal remained elusive for the Bulls.