Rusty Bulls gain confidence from comeback against Western

Macarthur FC head coach Ante Milicic predicts his rusty players will take confidence from their stirring comeback against high-flying Western United, after pumping desperately needed match minutes into them.

The Bulls hadn’t played since Boxing Day, but showed tremendous resolve to rally from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 2-2 draw in Tuesday’s Isuzu UTE A-League clash at Campbelltown Stadium.

“For the boys to get something out of the game I’m just super proud of them, but at the same time I think it gives the playing group a lot of confidence moving forward,” Milicic said.

Milicic revealed some of his substitutions had been planned before the game, with Ulises Davila replacing Jordan Mutch at half-time.

“I’m a big believer with getting the loads right, particularly in such a busy and difficult period and its difficult to resist the temptation of playing them longer,” Milicic said.

“Even with (striker) Apo (Apostolos Giannou) tonight we were chasing the game. He’s an excellent striker and you’d want to leave him on, but there’s that duty of care we have as a club to these professionals.”

Macarthur debutant and Socceroo Giannou had a couple of good first-half chances, but United goalkeeper Jamie Young foiled him on both occasions.

“Probably he’ll be his hardest critic, he had a couple of chances,” Milicic said.

“We would have all liked for him to get off the mark tonight and they were good chances.

“But the main thing for him is to get the match minutes in the legs and he hasn’t played enough in the last two years.”

Western, who moved top with the point they picked up, had a challenge of a different type having played only three days earlier.

“We didn’t have a pre-season with a lot of games and then all of a sudden we’re out four weeks with COVID and then a couple of weeks later, you need to back up three days after a game,” Western coach John Aloisi said.

“Its important that we use the fresher players.”

Aloisi made six changes to his starting side for Tuesday’s game with star Italian import Alessandro Diamanti among those rested.

Some of Western’s youngsters took advantage of their opportunity, with 21-year-old Nicolas Milanovic marking his first A-League Men start with his first goal.

Milicic conceded Macarthur were troubled by Western’s play in transition, with the visitors scoring two good goals from well constructed moves.

“We probably pressed a little bit higher tonight than what we normally do, we were a little bit aggressive,” Milicic said.

“That’s the approach that we wanted tonight, so we left a lot of spaces in between, particularly in wide areas and they’ve got a lot of speed in that front group.”