Bulls, Wanderers end ALM season with draw

·2-min read

Macarthur FC and Western Sydney Wanderers have ended their A-League Men seasons on a frustrating note after being forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Campbelltown Stadium.

With Jarrod Carluccio's maiden ALM goal cancelled out by Tomi Juric's 55th minute penalty for the Bulls, the fiery nature of Sunday's contest belied its status as a dead rubber for both teams.

Both had strong chances to win it as the game progressed, with Bulls keeper Filip Kurto producing a spectacular save to deny Tomer Homed a 95th minute winner.

The rub of the VAR green fell the host's way twice in the preceding exchanges: awarding Juric his spot-kick and rubbing out a Hemed goal, the latter decision derisively labelled "incredible" by Wanderers coach Mark Rudan.

Nonetheless, all the excitement counted for little in the season's broader context.

Hopes of finals already dashed, the Bulls can drop from seventh to eighth if Sydney FC defeat Brisbane on Tuesday but they aren't at risk of falling into a playoff for a spot in the 2022 Australia Cup.

The Wanderers were already confirmed to be taking place in those fixtures and will now host Brisbane next week.

Rudan rested a host of players in preparation for that contest but will now likely be without Terry Antonis for it after the midfielder suffered a first-half hamstring injury.

Their finals drought now officially at half a decade, the Wanderers' final tally of 27 points is their lowest since 2018-19 and their 30 goals scored is their smallest return since 2014-15.

Initially signed as a caretaker following the mid-season sacking of Carl Robinson, Rudan received a contract until the end of the 2023-24 season in March and already has priorities laid out for the Wanderers' latest rebuild.

"Getting the team right and the staff around me right," he said.

"There's going to be changes, that's clear. We're building a team that our fans are going to be extremely excited about.

"I know exactly how we're going to go about it."

Conversely, Ante Milicic doesn't need to worry about offseason plans.

Declaring himself to be "on empty", the now-former Macarthur coach announced his plans to depart Australia and undergo a, possibly permanent, European sabbatical in April.

"I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't get a copy of this game and review it as I normally do," he reflected.

"So we'll see how we go tomorrow."

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity (Macarthur) has given me."

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