Western go down late in Macarthur clash

November 10, 2023 BY

Effort: Tomoki Imai and the rest of the Western United defensive corps stood strong for almost all of the club’s match up with the Macarthur Bulls last weekend. Photo: DAN HIMBRECHTS/ AAP IMAGE

MACARTHUR boss Mile Sterjovski praised winger Ali Auglah after his ninthly-third minute winner helped the Bulls maintain their unbeaten start to the A-League Men with a 1-0 win over Western United.

The Bulls had to work hard for victory with Auglah’s last-gasp strike sealing the result in front of 2863 fans at Campbelltown Stadium last Saturday.

The 21-year-old winger, who was raised in Sydney but qualifies for Iraq, was able to latch onto a bobbling loose ball in the Western box in the dying stages to tuck away his first senior goal.

“Ali’s been showing for many weeks now the kind of quality he has,” Sterjovski said. “I thought he has made an impact coming off the bench and this isn’t the first time he has.

“But I’m hoping this goal will lift him even more so he can show his qualities each week.”

Sterjovski’s strength and quality on his bench swung the game late in his favour.

The Bulls boss has been juggling players’ minutes with the club’s commitments at home and in Asia.

He had the luxury of being able to throw Auglah, captain Ulises Davila and striker Lachlan Rose into the game when he needed a circuit-breaker.

Davila and Rose both threatened to break the deadlock before Auglah stepped up to the mark late in the piece.

“We’ve got a good squad with a lot of depth and it’s designed this way because of our scheduling,” Sterjovski said.

“I told the players we would need to rely on everybody and the players who came on made an impact and kept the momentum going for us.”

While Macarthur left it late to seal victory the truth was that goalkeeper Tom Heward-Belle did remarkably well to keep Western’s hopes alive.

Thumped 5-0 by the Western Sydney Wanderers, Heward-Belle pulled off two fantastic saves to keep the Bulls at bay until a mix-up at the back allowed Auglah to pounce.

“It was just right at the end, a sucker punch,” said Western United manager John Aloisi.

“Heward-Belle hasn’t played a lot of football and after copping five goals it’s not easy to come out and play.

“But he showed his quality and we kept improving as individuals and as a group.”

Western United take on Adelaide at Mars Stadium this Saturday.