Macarthur have edged closer to sealing an A-League finals berth, holding on for a 2-1 win over Western United.
Macarthur FC have taken a big step towards locking in an inaugural A-League finals berth with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Western United.
A loss or draw would have left the Bulls among a cluster of teams battling for top-six spots but instead they leapt to fourth on the table and can't be caught by Western Sydney or Wellington.
"There was a time in the game when we could have made it 3-0 and probably killed it off," coach Ante Milicic said.
"In the end, we concede from a set piece which is disappointing, but we hang on and we get the important three points.
"... (It was important) to get three points, and really know that Wellington and Wanderers can't catch us any more and we'll really make Adelaide and Brisbane honest in the last few days now to finish up the season."
United were reeling from a 6-1 loss to Melbourne Victory and had Monday night's game moved from AAMI Park to Leichhardt Oval amid Melbourne's coronavirus outbreak.
But they almost opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Alessandro Diamanti forced an excellent save from Adam Federici - then nearly caught the Bulls goalkeeper off his line seven minutes later.
Macarthur skipper Mark Milligan made a rare defensive midfield appearance and had a hand in both goals.
The Bulls struck in the 27th minute when Milligan looped a long ball to Matt Derbyshire, who nodded the ball down to Markel Susaeta.
The winger flicked the ball up with his right foot then nudged it down before smacking home the strike with his left foot.
Four minutes later, Milligan blasted a thunderous strike before running to celebrate with his family who were in the front row of the crowd.
United hit back in the 63rd minute when an unmarked Iker Guarrotxena headed home Diamanti's outswinging corner and were the better side from there, without reward.
They have now lost seven games on the bounce but Rudan said the second half was a platform for their final game of the season against Central Coast.
United will remain based in Sydney until after Saturday's game.
"I've missed Western United, how we play, what we're about and our values as a football club but I saw that in the second half," he said.
"That thoroughly pleased me and I was really, really proud of that. It might be a little stepping stone for us but I'll take that right now in terms of where we're at.
"You've got to take the positives. We've got one more game to go, we want to take that second-half performance into that next game."