Macarthur FC has edged out the Central Coast Mariners in a tense match, with an Oliver Bozanic own goal in the 45th-minute seeing the home side gain their second win of the season.
The Mariners dominated the early stages of play, looking to progress the ball from wide areas over the top of the Macarthur backline.
Both sides had their chances in the first half, with some smart buildup from the Mariners seeing Goddard taking a right-footed shot, which forced a great save from Filip Kurto.
For Macarthur, Ulises Davila had a clear cut shot on goal in the 45th minute, but it was blocked inadvertently by teammate Lachlan Rose.
However, just one minute late Davila found himself in a similar position, and while not getting as clean of contact on the shot, a deflection off Oliver Bozanic saw Macarthur take the lead just before halftime.
The second half was a cagey affair, with Filip Kurto acting as the key pillar of Macarthur’s sturdiness in defence.
There were plenty of low-quality chances for both sides, but just three big chances were created throughout the match, as the defences remained on top.
CCM FRONT TWO COMBINE
With Matt Simon out for the foreseeable future, the partnership of Marco Urena and Moresche looked positive in both their combinations and individual performances.
Urena yet again showed his worth as a wonderful signing for the Mariners, looking positive with every action on the ball.
Considering the Mariners don’t play with a classic attacking midfielder – instead two wide ball carriers – there’s a heavy reliance on one of the front two to drop deep and supply an option in the pocket.
Urena and Moresche seemingly have a fantastic understanding of each other’s movements, as they rotated consistently with confidence.
Moresche had the pace to stretch the defence with Urena also supplying runs into the channels, while the two both knew their rehearsed movements and were able to flick on passes to find the other with relative success.
While no goals came for the pair, their combined expected goals of 0.67 suggests they weren’t far off.
The partnership remains new and fresh but already looks like it will continue to blossom over the coming weeks.
ROSE IMPRESSES AGAIN
Lachlan Rose had another fine showing for Macarthur, with the winger turned striker high on confidence, coming into the fixture as joint top goalscorer at the start of the round.
Rose showed his high form by attempting an audacious bicycle kick in the 15th minute, and while that didn’t come off, his movement was consistently positive and smart.
The 22-year-old is showing all the signs of a poacher and has been well taught by Ante Milicic, a former forward himself.
Rose consistently positioned himself in an offside position behind the Mariners defensive line, never looking come short to help build up play.
He left that to the two attacking midfielders, while Macarthur prioritised quick switches of play and looked to release attacking wingback Moudi Najjar and Craig Noone.
The theory is Rose would then be isolated in behind with the wingback, and available for a square pass to tap it home.
While that didn’t play out, Rose remained threatening and is increasingly resembling a poacher week by week.
With his positional intelligence, adaptability and current goalscoring form, it’s easy to see how he’s keeping Tomi Juric and Al-Hassan Toure out of the side at the moment.
It was certainly the evening for goalkeepers, with the Mariners seeing not one but two goalkeepers make their debut.
According to statistician Andrew Howe, it was the first time two goalkeepers had made their league debuts for the same team in the same game in Australian national league history.
Lawrence Caruso, born in September 2004, looked shaky off corners but good overall, and made a few key saves to deny Macarthur, particularly late on, where he did his best to keep his side in the game.
Yaren Sozer, who was replaced by Caruso in the 23rd minute, was highly unlucky to suffer a torn hamstring on debut and looked confident up until that point.
Meanwhile, Filip Kurto had another stunning game, conceding an expected goals of 1.32 but managing to deflect any and every shot that came his way.
Kurto was comfortable in coming off his line late on to act as a sweeper and will be a key part of Macarthur’s play as they mount their finals charge for the second season running.
A-League Men Round Three: BlueBet Stadium
Macarthur FC 1 (Oliver Bozanic 45m, OG)
Central Coast Mariners 0
How did the managers react?
Macarthur FC: Ante Milicic
“Delighted to get three points, particularly being home game against a very difficult opponent. It was a tough game but in the end to score and to keep the clean sheet is pleasing.
“I thought we weren’t sitting at our best tonight. We need to be braver in our defensive structure which we weren’t at times. Filip (Kurto) was excellent and the boys were desperate.”
Central Coast Mariners: Nick Montgomery
“Disappointed with the goal we conceded with the deflection but that’s football. A couple of really good saves from Kurto but all credit to Macarthur for hanging in there towards the end.
“For me, we should have put away a couple of the chances we had and could have got a point out of it.”
Image source: A-League Men