Melbourne City’s gamble to play injured striker Jamie Maclaren has failed to pay off, with the A-League leaders held to a 1-1 draw by Macarthur FC at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday night.
Despite not being chosen by Socceroos coach Graham Arnold for Australia’s two-games series against Ecuador starting in Sydney on Friday night because of a broken toe, Maclaren was still deemed fit enough to play for a City side hit by injury.
It’s understood Arnold gave Maclaren and City coach Rado Vidosic his blessing to pick the Socceroos striker despite him missing national duty.
However, while Maclaren worked hard, he struggled at times with his injury and wasn’t his usual potent self in front of goal.
He also wasn’t helped by some ordinary service, particularly in stoppage time when he was totally unmarked in the Bulls’ penalty area but was let down by a poor pass from teammate and fellow Socceroo Marco Tilio.
Maclaren was also left frustrated early in the second half when he thought he had earnt a penalty for City after being fouled by Macarthur defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis.
However after originally pointing to the spot, referee Chris Beath rescinded the penalty after a VAR check showed the Maclaren was in an offside position.
With the scores locked at 1-1 in the 89th minute, City thought they had a chance to score a winner when Beath again pointed to the penalty spot, this time for what he thought was a foul from Macarthur’s Ivan Vujica on Aiden O’Neill.
However, fortune was to again favour the Bulls when Beath again overturned his decision after being advised by the VAR to review footage of the incident.
City therefore had to settle for a share of the points.
Having led second-placed Adelaide United by six points at the start of the round, City’s advantage over the Reds has now been reduced to four points, but Vidosic’s men still have a game in hand.
“I’m so proud of my boys. They tried so hard,” Vidosic told Paramount +.
“You make your own luck and it was just one of those nights where the pass was maybe a little bit too hard, or we were a little bit selfish in those situations, or the shots were blocked.”
Against the run of play, Macarthur – whose special pink jerseys will be auctioned for the Sony Foundation Australia charity – went ahead in the 26th minute.
Some poor defending from City centre-back Curtis Good allowed Macarthur attacker Al Hassan Toure to charge forward into the visitors’ almost empty half.
Despite being chased down by midfielder O’Neill, Toure showed great composure to feed unmarked teammate Jason Romero, who scored his first A-League goal.
It was only the woodwork that denied City an equaliser in the 36th minute when a long-distance strike from captain Scott Jamieson struck the crossbar.
However, City eventually levelled the scores in the 66th minute when Aspropotamitis turned a low cross from young star Jordan Bos into his own net.
Originally published as Jamie Maclaren battles toe injury as Melbourne City held by Macarthur