It was left until the final moments, but a spirited Melbourne City fought back late to earn a share of the points against Macarthur on Sunday afternoon.
Despite controlling large parts of the contest, City found itself 3-1 down with just minutes to play, but Jamie Maclaren’s second of the afternoon and Terry Antonis’ first goal for the Club ensured there was plenty for fans to cheer about late.
Aurelio Vidmar made two changes to his starting XI from our midweek AFC Champions League clash against Buriram United.
Samuel Souprayen and Scott Galloway – the latter making his first start of the season – were both named in defence in place of Curtis Good and Callum Talbot.
Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 4. Nuno REIS, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 11. Leo NATEL, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 17. Terry ANTONIS, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 22. Curtis GOOD, 25. Callum TALBOT, 35. Zane SCHREIBER, 37. Max CAPUTO.
City almost began the afternoon in perfect fashion with Jamie Maclaren close to opening scoring inside the first minute.
Our number nine found space in the box and got a shot away, but a deflection off the Macarthur defender saw it out for an early corner.
It was a slick-looking City outfit in the early stages with some nice combinations coming in midfield, and the opener was just inches away in the 10th minute.
After some bobbling around in the box, the ball ended up with Leo Natel at the top of the area and the Brazilian struck it sweetly but his effort was just the wrong side of the left upright.
A week on from scoring from outside the box for his first City goal, Steven Ugarkovic tried his luck again in the 19th minute but Jed Drew got in the way of the powerful volley and the ball went out for another City corner.
Unfortunately for City fans, it was an early ending to the contest for the in-form Tolgay Arslan, who was replaced by Terry Antonis due to injury just before the half-hour mark.
Jamie Young was called into action for the first time of the day almost immediately after the substitution and did well to get a fingertip on Clayton Young’s driving strike.
City remained on top for the remainder of the first half allowing just one shot to the Bulls compared to our 11, but the score line remained 0-0 at the break.
The first goal of the afternoon finally arrived in the 58th minute with Galloway on his first start of the season being credited with the assist.
The full-back drove to the left by-line before playing a smart cutback to Maclaren, which the City skipper got a deft touch on to take past the goalkeeper, nutmegging Tomislav Uskok on the way.
Our advantage wouldn’t stand for long though as Macarthur replied just three minutes later through Ulises Davila.
City was able to grab the momentum for much of the next 20 minutes as we looked to re-take the lead, but a Macarthur goal against the run of play in the 83rd minute to Jake Holman looked like it could be the decisive moment.
Things went from bad to worse five minutes later when Matthew Miller made it 3-1.
Showing a ‘never say die’ attitude though, City didn’t lay down with just minutes left in the contest.
Maclaren first got the final touch on a corner after Samuel Souprayen had the initial header towards goal, pulling it back to 2-3 as we entered stoppage time.
Substitute Alessandro Lopane was in on the act just a couple of minutes later as the City crowd reached full voice, dribbling into the box and winning a penalty.
With Captain Maclaren on a hattrick, it was a surprise to virtually everyone inside AAMI Park when Antonis was the one to step up to take the crucial spot-kick.
Much to the delight of the crowd, he slammed his penalty into the side netting to rescue a point.
Vidmar will now get an extended period with his team on the training pitch with no matches scheduled next weekend due to the international break.
City will next be in action the following week away to Wellington in Auckland, before departing for Tokyo for our next ACL game against Ventforet Kofu.