Bulls undone in controversial Derby

Macarthur FC’s undefeated run was brought to an abrupt end in highly controversial circumstances after succumbing to a 3-2 defeat against Sydney FC in the derby at Campbelltown on Saturday night.

The Bulls were on the receiving end of two highly contentious referee decisions that delivered Sydney a penalty and dismissed Macarthur defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis.

“I don’t know if I should say it or not, probably better not saying anything. I think it’s clear – In my opinion anyway – it’s clear for everyone to see what the penalty decision was and what the red card was,” Bulls defender Tomi Uskok said.

The contest was evenly poised in the opening stanza with both sides setting the platform for what loomed to be a potential classic in the making.

But just as both sides were beginning to find their rhythm, the tempo was brought to an abrupt halt when referee Alex King awarded Sydney FC a contentious penalty in the 12th minute. Sydney winger Robert Mark appeared to have pushed over the Bulls’ Matt Millar while attempting to run pats him, yet fortuitously won a penalty in the process. Replays only strengthened Macarthur’s protests yet the VAR did not intervene, despite the chorus of groans in bemusement that echoed across Campbelltown Stadium.

Despite the set-back, goalkeeper Filip Kurto showed nerves of steel and palmed away Mak’s penalty, but Sydney striker Patrick Wood pounced on the loose ball to open the scoring.

The Bulls showed their resilience and hit back immediately through Millar. The fullback had his revenge, steering a powerful header into the net from a corner.

While that goal may have been an instant reply, it did anything but spell the end of the controversial decisions going against the Bulls. The hosts suffered another sucker-punch when defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis was giving his marching orders after the intervention from the VAR. Aspropotamitis collided with Wood while vying for the ball and was given a yellow card. However, in a puzzling decision, referee Alex King upgraded his decision after watching the replays, much to the amusement of pundits and punters.

With the numerical advantage, Mak made it 2-1 on the stroke of half time.

The Bulls put-up a brave response in the second half and frustrated the fortuitous Sydney but the visitors sealed the win against the 10-men Macarthur through substitute Jaiden Kucharski.

However, even that wouldn’t kill-off the brave Bulls. Substitute Anthony Carter pulled one back with a clever instinctive strike in the dying minutes. With one of the last kicks of the game, Carter came within centimetres of snatching what would have been an incredible draw against all-odds. He rattled the cross bar with a powerful strike on the stroke of full-time, coming agonizingly close to snaring a draw in front of a crowd of 7,021.