A-League newcomers Macarthur FC were edged 2-1 by Graham Arnold’s Olyroos in a competitive pre-season contest at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Tuesday.
Bulls triallist Lachlan Rose came off the bench to fire the start-up club into a 69th-minute lead after collecting a pass from the club’s inaugural captain Mark Milligan.
A piledriver from Melbourne City midfielder Connor Metcalfe levelled the scores on 79 minutes and Newcastle Jets loanee Ramy Najjarine pounced on a defensive mix-up a minute later to net the decisive goal.
Macarthur coach Ante Milicic fielded ex-Premier League veteran Matt Derbyshire as a central striker, flanked by Michael Ruhs and Moudi Najjar, with Milligan protecting a back four which included Socceroos Aleksandar Susnjar and Ivan Franjic.
The match acted as an opportunity for the Australia Under-23s to continue their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games, which was pushed back to July 2021 following the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bulls will take on Newcastle Jets on Thursday, 26 November at Maitland No.1 Sportsground, 5.15pm AEDT kick-off, ahead of their competitive debut once the A-League gets underway from Sunday, 27 December.
MACARTHUR FC: All to know about the A-League newcomers ahead of debut season
LATEST SIGNINGS: All of the players signed for A-League 2020/21 Season
Ahead of the game, Milicic told macarthurfc.com.au: “I’m happy with the mix of experienced and younger players that we have coming into the squad.”
He added: “We’ve been training now for a while. It’s coming together at a small rate but definitely we feel, internally, that we’re heading in the right direction.”
Melbourne Derby pre-season spoils shared in six-goal thriller
Jamie Maclaren picked up where he left off last season, scoring a brace, as Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory played out a 3-3 draw through three 45-minute halves in a pre-season hit-out at Marvel Stadium.
Head coach Patrick Kisnorbo fielded a full-strength line up through the first 90 minutes of City’s first match since the A-League Grand Final 2020, and the Bundoora club led 3-2 before introducing their academy players for the third and final stanza in the behind-closed-doors match on Monday.
New arrivals Andrew Nabbout, Taras Gomulka, Ben Garuccio and Marco Tilio were among City’s starters, while former Premier League attacker Callum McManaman lined up in Navy Blue alongside fellow newcomer Jake Brimmer.
Leigh Broxham opened the scoring for Big V on six minutes with a well-placed drive from outside the box but the 2020 Grand Final runners up responded on 38 minutes when Curtis Good headed home from Craig Noone’s out-swinging corner.
Socceroos striker Maclaren earned and scored a penalty to put City ahead after the break and the A-League 2019/20 Golden Boot winner made it 3-1 with a fierce strike from 12 yards.
Victory’s recovery began on 81 minutes when Brimmer’s well-placed free-kick pulled a goal back and Elvis Kamsoba levelled up the scores at 3-3 with a back-post header nine minutes into the additional half.
“I thought we controlled the game,” City head coach Patrick Kisnorbo told @MelbourneCity on Twitter.
“It shows it’s been a good pre-season, hard pre-season and it’s great to be rewarded for the hard work that we’ve put in so far but obviously there’s a lot more to do.
City marksman Maclaren added: “It’s different playing a pre-season friendly in a stadium, which gives you sort of that game day buzz.”
“We’ve been working hard for this moment – to play the first 90 minutes in a competitive sort of way.”
Victory head coach Grant Brebner was impressed with his side's showing ahead of their trip to Qatar to compete in the AFC Champions League next week.
“[The match] was purely a fitness exercise for us,” Brebner said on Melbourne Victory's Twitter channel, @gomvfc.
“We've still got a handful of players that have got to come into this team, so what we put out there against a strong Melbourne City team, I'm really pleased with.”