“We knew that if we kept playing our football that the results will come. That’s why this doesn’t really surprise us too much. We knew that we were capable,” coach Ante Milicic said.
“We’ve got enough experienced boys in that dressing room that have been through similar situations like this in their careers. The main thing was at half time to stay calm … in the second half we really got what we deserved so I’m really pleased for the boys.”
Derbyshire broke the deadlock in the 66th minute with a free header from point-blank range, latching onto a Denis Genreau flick-on from a corner kick, which stood despite a lengthy VAR review that probed whether an offside Tommy Oar had interfered with play.
The veteran Englishman made it 2-0 seven minutes later, bundling home a fantastic cross from Oar, and then had a hand in Macarthur’s third goal with some neat build-up play to reward Milligan’s run from deep.
He then nodded home his third – again, unmarked – in the final minute of regulation time, with Oar once more the provider.
The Bulls now sit one point adrift of Central Coast in second place on the A-League ladder, and while it doesn’t meant much at this stage given the erratic nature of the schedule, it’s clear that the competition’s newest team are hard to stop – but very easy to watch – when everything clicks.
Adelaide have now conceded 10 goals across their last three away games and barely gave a yelp in Sydney’s south-west, although it could have been much worse were it not for some desperate last-ditch defensive actions that Derbyshire twice in the opening half.
The first came in just the fifth minute when he got a free header on Markel Susaeta’s cross, but Jordan Elsey somehow managed to get his thigh in the way to deflect an otherwise certain goal.
Derbyshire was entirely to blame for blowing his second point-blank opportunity, crafted by a smart through ball from Jake Hollman, who was handed his maiden A-League start as one of eight changes made by Milicic to the team that beat Brisbane Roar midweek.
Derbyshire rounded the goalkeeper and had an empty net beckoning, but his side-footed finish was too casual and failed to take Noah Smith out of the equation, and the Adelaide defender was able to clear it off the line.
United coach Carl Veart admitted his side “rolled over” after Macarthur’s first goal and made it easy for them.
“You can’t give away easy goals like we did in that last 15 minutes. Three of their goals were scored inside the six-yard box with players unmarked. That just cannot happen at professional level,” he said.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.