Preview: Win and you’re in as Sky Blues host Macarthur in Elimination Final

Someone must win in this Saturday’s do-or-die elimination final between Sydney FC and Macarthur FC at Allianz Stadium (7:45pm).

The victor between the fourth and fifth-placed sides after the Isuzu UTE A-League home-and-away season, will move on to the two-legged semi-finals to face either the Central Coast Mariners or Wellington Phoenix. 

A reminder that if scores are even at the end of the 90 minutes, extra time and, if needed, penalties, would occur to break the deadlock.

With Sydney FC thumping Perth Glory on Sunday afternoon, the Sky Blues leapfrogged past Macarthur FC into the fourth spot. 

Despite finishing on the same number of points (41), the Sky Blues had one more win, securing them a home elimination final. 

This meeting is the third between the sides this season and the first finals match between the two in A-League history. 

The Sky Blues must overturn their home curse if they are to move on to the next stage as they they have never won or scored against the Bulls when playing at their home ground in the A-League. 

This fixture is also prone to red cards, with the last four matches seeing five players see red.

The last time these sides played each other in a do-or-die contest was in the 2021 Australia Cup, in which the Sky Blues stormed to a 2-0 victory in extra time to progress to the Quarter Finals. 

This finals series is Sydney FC’s sixth appearance in seven years and Macarthur’s second appearance in their club’s history. 

Anthony Caceres and Max Burgess vying for the ball

The Sky Blues came to Allianz Stadium on Sunday needing a win to secure the home final, but they did much more than obtain victory, equalling their largest-ever winning margin and recording the most shots on target since the A-League started collecting in the 2013/2014 season. 

Sydney FC dominated from the outset, but Perth controlled much of the first half. Two goals right before the break, before an attacking onslaught saw the Sky Blues come out 7-1 winners against the bottom-of-the-table side. 

Although Ufuk Talay explained that the win would bring “confidence” to his men, he explained that he wanted them to continue to “improve on their defensive structure”, as the Glory had 15 shots on goal, many of them coming through attacking bursts. 

Macarthur, however, could not secure three straight wins in the A-League for the first time this season, as they equalled their biggest losing margin this campaign, going down 3-0 to Wellington Phoenix. 

Despite the scoreline, the game was even, with Macarthur penetrating Wellington’s half but, they couldn’t break down their stubborn defence. 

The Nix capitalised off this, scoring two goals within six minutes to blow out a 2-0 scoreline 30 minutes in by exposing their defence’s left and right flanks. 

Oskar Zawada provided a finishing touch for the Phoenix in stoppage time as he dispatched a penalty, seeing Macarthur miss their chance to rise to third. 

One’s To Watch: Jed Drew and Corey Hollman 

Corey Hollman:

Corey Hollman against Macarthur last time at Allianz

It’s a big Saturday for the Hollman family, with Shay Hollman playing in the A-League Women’s Grand Final against Melbourne City at 4:15pm. 

However, after that, Corey Hollman will face his brother for the second time this season, after Jake Hollman missed the Bulls’ last encounter with the Sky Blues due to Olyroos duty. 

Corey has been one of Sydney FC’s most crucial players this season, combining with captain Luke Brattan to make seamless transitions and staying at the back of the pack when the Sky Blues cascade into the box, collecting the ball and distributing it back into the final third. 

The 20-year-old has also not shied away from creating goal opportunities, coming close against Perth last week and against the Wanderers two weeks prior. 

Corey has appeared in every game this year, a credit to his determination on the field, as his breakout season with the side has thrust the 20-year-old into the spotlight. 

Jed Drew:

On a cold, dismal and wet night in Campbelltown two weeks ago, Macarthur was able to hold firm with nine men and salvage three points against a rampant Sydney FC. 

Jed Drew was the defining presence of the game, not only scoring the only goal of the contest but, when Macarthur was playing with eleven men, was a leader in the side’s attack, often finding the ends of lethal crosses and through balls by Clayton Lewis and Daniel De Silva. 

Now that Jordan Courtney-Perkins and Jake Girdwood-Reich have returned to the defence, how Ufuk Talay’s men approach him may be slightly different.

Jed Drew against Joe Lolley last outing

However, after his man-of-the-match display against the Sky Blues, he was not as lethal when playing the Phoenix, making one shot and only manufacturing 21 passes all game. 

With Mexican Ulises Davila by his side after returning last week, how he and Jed Drew interact is one to watch.  

2023/2024 Compare The Pair: 

5-1-4H2H LAST 10 GAMES4-1-5
0-1-4H2H IN SYD4-1-0
19SHOTS PG13.1
3.1SAVES PG4.9
12.4FOULS PG9.9

Team News: 

No Sydney FC players came off injured last week, but whether Fabio Gomes could be able to overcome a hamstring niggle that saw him omitted from last weekend’s side remains unanswered. 

Against Wellington, no Bulls player was sent off or came off injured; however, they will be without Matt Millar, Jake McGing, Jesper Webber and Bernardo Oliveria due to injuries. Tommy Smith will also return to the side after serving a one-match ban for physical contact against Fabio Gomes.

Last Time Out: 

Sydney FC last travelled to Macarthur two weeks ago, where they went down 1-0 against a nine-man Bulls after two red cards given to Ivan Vujica and Tommy Smith. 

Macarthur attacked the Sky Blues defence for most of the first half but could not break down Sydney FC. 

Tommy Smith receiving a red card

Ivan Vujica blew the tight contest open when he saw red after a high foul on Joe Lolley at the end of the half. The Match Review Panel later overturned this.

Jed Drew opened the scoring to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead when he exploited the Sky Blues’ defence on the break. 

The second half saw the Sky Blues surge into Macarthur’s final third, but they could not break down the Bulls’ compact defence, even after Tommy Smith saw red for palming Fabio Gomes.

Match Details: Sydney FC v Macarthur FC Isuzu UTE A-League Elimination Final Saturday 4th May, 2024 Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW Kick Off: 7:45PM Gates Open: 6:45PM Broadcast Live: Paramount+ and 10BOLD Tickets: Click Here