Western Sydney Wanderers coach Carl Robinson was left “fuming inside” after Macarthur FC etched their name in A-League history on Wednesday night.
The Bulls’ 1-0 victory at Bankwest Stadium saw Australia’s newest side join both Gold Coast United and Western United as the only expansion clubs to win their opening match since 2007.
Benat Etxebarria’s deflected free-kick proved the Wanderers’ undoing midway through the second half – the former Athletic Bilbao star’s strike finding the back of the net via captain Mark Milligan.
The Spaniard’s impact came no fewer than five minutes after his introduction, and a string of fine saves from Adam Federici made sure their cross-town rivals would not find fortune of their own.
Despite the narrow defeat, Robinson’s calm figure failed to hide his displeasure at full-time, with the Wanderers’ elevated expectations only amplified by their grudge match against Newcastle Jets on January 8.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Robinson told Fox Sports after the match.
“I want to see attitude, I want to see behaviours – these little things you can control, then the football takes care of itself.
“… I’m fuming inside but you have to hold your head up and say, ‘right, we go again’.”
Robinson’s frustration, however, should take nothing away from Macarthur’s performance, with Ante Milicic’s men playing a brand of football fans from Sydney’s south-west will flock to see in the flesh.
Wellington Phoenix, North Queensland Fury, Melbourne Heart and the Wanderers all fell short of victory in their league debuts, never mind the style they executed on each occasion.
In the Bulls, buoyed by their blend of youth and high-profile experience, there looms a genuine threat to upset the balance of power in the league and, deep down, you feel Milicic knows it.
“Today was an important day for the club, for the club’s history, but also important for the game and the A-League,” he said after the match.
“We want to be competitive; we want to add value … it’s good to win, particularly against such a strong team like Western Sydney.
“We’ll be satisfied tonight but we know we’ll have to quickly recover and shift our focus to the Mariners on Sunday.”
It's far too early for title talk at Macarthur, but if you somehow managed to miss last night's historic derby display, the sound of cowbells ringing round Campbelltown Stadium will soon have your attention.