Super Sub inspires Wanderers to emphatic win over Top Six Rivals

Nicolas Milanovic came off the bench to devastating effect for Western Sydney, bagging a goal and an assist as the Wanderers scored three goals in 13 second-half minutes to beat Macarthur FC 3-1 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

The Bulls were by far and away the more dominant of the two sides in the first half and had multiple chances to take the lead but they were made to pay after the break.

Brought on in place of Milos Ninkovic, Milanovic opened the scoring with a rasping effort in the 57th minute before teeing up teammate Sonny Kittel to score his first A-League goal just eight minutes later.

The Wanderers then wrapped up the win in the 70th minute with Dutchman Jorrit Hendrix rifling a ball beyond Bulls goalkeeper Filip Kurto from the edge of the box.

The home side did pull one back in the 86th minute as the fit-again Matthew Millar pounced on a loose ball inside the box to reduce the deficit to two.

However the Wanderers avoided any late drama in Campbelltown to seal back-to-back away wins in the Isuzu UTE A-League and move four points clear of seventh-placed Melbourne City on the ladder.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 01: Jack Clisby (l) and Nicolas Milanovic (r) of the Wanderers celebrate with Jorrit Hendrix (C) of the Wanderers after Hendrix scored a goal during the A-League Men round 22 match between Macarthur FC and Western Sydney Wanderers at Campbelltown Stadium, on April 01, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Wanderers fashioned the first genuine chance of the game with midfielder Sonny Kittel sliding the ball beyond the Bulls defence and into the path of Marcus Antonsson, however the Swede’s effort was well saved by Filip Kurto.

Goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas then produced an outstanding save to thwart Macarthur in the 11th minute, denying Ulises Davila from point blank range, before Jack Clisby then cleared a Jake Hollman effort off the line.

Now in the ascendency, Macarthur saw another good chance go begging in the 24th minute as the ever-dangerous Davila played Raphael in down the right but the young forward dragged his shot wide of the far post, much to the dismay of his teammate and captain.

Playing in his 500th career match, French forward Valere Germain was inches away from opening the scoring in the 41st minute as he escaped his marker at a corner, however his glancing header flew narrowly wide of the far post.

Continuing their dominance into the second half Macarthur went close once again, this time Germain saw his side-footed effort deflected wide of the target just 90-seconds after the restart.

But against the run of play it was the Wanderers who took the lead and it came from the boot of substitute Milanovic.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 01: Nicolas Milanovic of the Wanderers celebrates scoring a goal during the A-League Men round 22 match between Macarthur FC and Western Sydney Wanderers at Campbelltown Stadium, on April 01, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Brought on in place of Milos Ninkovic, the 22-year-old released Brandon Borrello down the left with a quick throw-in before receiving the return pass, driving into the area and then unleashing a venomous effort across Kurto and into the top corner to break the deadlock.

Fellow substitute Dylan Pierias then had a glorious chance to double the visitors’ lead in the 63rd minute however Mark Rudan’s side made it 2-0 soon after and it was Milanovic at the heart of the move once again.

Released down the left by a beautiful flick from Jack Clisby, Milanovic whipped a pinpoint cross-field pass into the path of the unmarked Kittel who, after steadying himself with a touch, drilled the ball beyond Kurto to make it 2-0.

The away side then secured all three points with time to spare in Campbelltown as Aidan Simmons’ cross from the right was cushioned down by Kittel and into the path of Hendrix who smashed the ball into the back of the net from the edge of the box to make it 3-0 in the 70th minute.

Returning after a long injury lay-off, substitute Matt Millar reduced the deficit to two in the 86th minute, firing the ball beyond Thomas to make it 3-1.

Temperatures were raised at full-time as the Wanderers hero Milanovic was involved in a heated discussion with Bulls captain Davila which then prompted a melee as both sides were leaving the field.

It was the Wanderers though who were heading home the happier from Campbelltown, with the result moving them just a point behind fourth-placed Macarthur but crucially, now four points clear of Melbourne City who remain seventh on the ladder.