City need to lift amid early ALM struggles: coach

Anna Harrington |

An injury time penalty by Terry Antonis sealed a 3-3 ALM draw for Melbourne City against Macarthur.
An injury time penalty by Terry Antonis sealed a 3-3 ALM draw for Melbourne City against Macarthur.

Coach Aurelio Vidmar concedes Melbourne City need to lift several notches to put their stuttering A-League Men campaign back on track.

City fought back from 3-1 down to scrap out a 3-3 draw with Macarthur FC at AAMI Park on Sunday.

But the tepid start to the season (1-1-2) – which cost former Rado Vidosic the coach’s job after two games – is still their worst since 2015-16, the last time they failed to win at least two of their first four matches.

Vidmar wouldn’t put the lack of spark down to City’s hectic schedule between the ALM and the Asian Champions League.

“You can never really put your finger on it,” he said. 

“Look, they tried, absolutely. But it just wasn’t the game that we want to play. 

“It was pretty laboured to be honest and even in the 88th minute, when 3-1 down, the positive thing is that a lot of teams probably wouldn’t have come back from that. 

“So absolutely there’s a lot of fight in there but we really need to lift more than one notch, to be honest. 

“They know that, they’re disappointed for sure. And they know that’s not the level, the standard that’s required. So, back to work.”

Players from both sides compete for a header.
Plucky Macarthur rose above their usual standard but ultimately rued two points lost.

Vidmar will use the international break to enact a solid training block ahead of trips to Wellington, Japan, Newcastle and Perth.

City will also need to decide how to manage Tolgay Arslan, who was forced out of Sunday’s game in the 27th minute by his persistent foot injury.

With Socceroos coach Graham Arnold watching, recalled striker Jamie Maclaren opened the scoring in the 58th minute.

But Ulises Davila equalised with a lovely chip in the 61st minute before Jake Hollman gave the Bulls the lead in the 83rd and Matt Millar added another five minutes later for 3-1.

Maclaren scored in the 90th minute to make for a nervous finish and Terry Antonis converted a 93rd-minute penalty to salvage a point.

“Very strange game. I didn’t like it at all, to be honest,” Vidmar said. 

“We were late to everything. Just two or three metres here, half a metre there, one second there.

“We were more on the back foot rather than the front foot. That’s what we’re not about.”

Vidmar said captain Maclaren gave Antonis the penalty after missing some recent spot-kicks.

Ulises Davila celebrates his goal.
Ulises Davila’s joy at scoring Macarthur’s first goal would be short-lived.

Last season’s wooden spooners, Macarthur blew their chance to go top but are unbeaten (2-2-0) after the first month.

“If you’d asked me before the game if I was happy to get a point, away from home, here, I would have said, ‘Yeah, definitely,'” Bulls coach Mile Sterjovski said.

“But it does feel like a loss, especially with the way we came out in the second half.

“Last time we came here it was a 6-1 defeat.

“There’s been a lot of progress, there’s been a lot of positives to take away from this performance. It’s a long season ahead but we’ve had a decent start.”