Match Preview: Macarthur v Wanderers

The Wanderers will look to record back-to-back wins for the first time since November when they make the short trip to face local foes Macarthur FC on Sunday afternoon.

It is the Wanderers’ second match in a row on the road, and they are looking to record a second straight win after their gutsy 1-0 win over Western United in Tasmania.

On his return to the starting side, Lachlan Brook scored a brilliant first time finish midway through the first half after a flowing move to secure the points in a match where the Red and Black played the last 24 minutes with 10 men after Aidan Simmons received a straight red card.

It was far from the prettiest performance from Western Sydney this season, as they only recorded eight shots on goal, but their defence stood firm after the early exit of Alex Bonetig due to injury, with goalkeeper Daniel Margush having his best game of the season so far as he made a number of crucial saves in the second half to keep the lead intact.

Despite the win, Western Sydney dropped a place in the table to fourth due to the central Coast Mariners also winning, with the Gosford side ahead of the Wanderers on goals scored.

It was still an important three points to keep a gap between them and the chasing pack; Macarthur now sit two points behind having played a game more, whilst Melbourne City are three points back in sixth.

HOBART, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 27: Wanderers players celebrate the goal of Lachlan Brook of the Wanderers during the A-League Men round 14 match between Western United and Western Sydney Wanderers at North Hobart Oval, on January 27, 2024, in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)

They will have to do without Simmons on the weekend due to his pending suspension, with Gabriel Cleur and Tate Russell in line to replace him, whilst there is concern over whether Bonetig will be fit after lasting just seven minutes in Tasmania.

If the youngster isn’t fit, Tom Beadling will most likely fill the breach as he did on the weekend.

The Wanderers will also hope key midfielder Jorrit Hendrix will be edging closer to a return after missing the past three games due to injury.

Oscar Priestman has performed well in his place, though, carrying out both his offensive and defensive duties diligently in the centre of the park alongside Josh Brillante.

HOBART, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 27: Oscar Priestman of the Wanderers is tackled by Jack Clisby of United during the A-League Men round 14 match between Western United and Western Sydney Wanderers at North Hobart Oval, on January 27, 2024, in Hobart, Australia. (Photo by Steve Bell/Getty Images)

Their opponents come into the game having won only one of their last eight matches, with three straight losses to finish 2023 and begin 2024 followed by three straight draws.

They did record an important win over Brisbane in Round 13, but they were held to a draw at home on Sunday afternoon after Perth Glory scored a 92nd minute equaliser.

The Bulls’ key players have undoubtedly been captain Ulises Davila and French striker Valere Germain, who each have seven goals and three assists so far this season, accounting for more than half of Macarthur’s goals.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 01: Lachlan Brook of the Wanderers and Ulises Davila of the Bulls challenge for the ball during the A-League Men round 10 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Macarthur FC at CommBank Stadium, on January 01, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Despite Macarthur’s patchy form in recent times, they sit in fifth thanks to a strong unbeaten run to begin the season; their 27 goals is the equal highest in the league, but their defence has shipped 26, leaving them 10th in the defensive standings.

They were also well below par when they faced the Wanderers on New Year’s Day, as the Wanderers scored twice in the opening 12 minutes to race out to a 2-0 lead.

A Jake Hollman stunner brought them back into the contest, but they were well off the pace as the Wanderers dominated and eventually secured the game with a late Valentino Yuel goal.

The result meant the Wanderers moved level in the head-to-head rankings, with each team having three wins alongside three draws; the last two meetings at Campbelltown Stadium have also ended level.