Macarthur hail their super subs after win at Adelaide

Macarthur FC coach Mile Sterjovski has paid tribute to his substitutes after they helped manufacture a dramatic, last-gasp 2-1 A-League Men’s victory over Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.

A win seemed unlikely for the Bulls after Nestory Irankunda broke the deadlock for United in stunning fashion on 20 minutes, and then Yianna Nicolau was sent off on 72 minutes for a stray elbow which connected with the Reds’ teenage sensation.

But, Sterjovski was undeterred and admitted he thought victory was still achievable.

He introduced Kristian Popovic and Ariath Piol in the 82nd minute, with the pair combining for the equaliser just two minutes later. 

Popovic whipped in a cross for Valerie Germain, who chested down for Piol to volley home from close range.

Daniel De Silva, who Sterjovski brought on at the hour, featured prominently in Macarthur’s fightback and supplied the cross for Tommy Smith who nodded in the winner on 88 minutes.

Filip Kurto went on to save an injury-time penalty from Irankunda, ensuring maximum points for the visitors.

“In the first half, I think they were on top of us and played some good football,” Sterjovski said.

“In the second half, especially after the send off and when the boys came on, the momentum changed and I thought we deserved the win in the end.

“I wanted to go for the win. I thought we needed energy and we needed to go forward. Shuffling a few players around and having a few extra when we attacked, I thought we could get on top of them a little bit.”

The result has Macarthur in fourth place, three points behind third-placed Melbourne Victory, who lost to league leaders Wellington Phoenix earlier in the day, and three points ahead of Sydney FC who host crosstown rivals Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

Sterjovski is hopeful the win against Adelaide, which snapped a run of consecutive losses for the Bulls, will hold his side in good stead as they look to cement their spot in the finals.

Macarthur face Sydney and Wellington in their final two games.

“Coming off two losses we needed a big game from the boys, a game to show character and heart and I think this was it,” Sterjovski said.

“I think this will give the boys a big boost leading into the last two games of the season and hopefully we can secure that finals place.”

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