The Bulls finished the first half on top, leading Perth Glory 1-0 last night at Campbelltown Stadium.
But they started the second half so poorly it looked like head coach Mile Sterjovski had sent out a different team – or a different game plan.
Bringing the ball out from their own half the passes invariably went straight to Perth players, giving the away side cheap possession and more than their share of attacking opportunities.
But it wasn’t just giving up possession easily; the Bulls were a little flat in the first half, but in those first 15 minutes after the break it looked much worse.
They were trying hard, but usually energetic players such as Jed Drew, Jake Hollman and Valere Garmain were clearly suffering from fatigue.
Yet, to their credit, the Bulls almost got away with a win and the three points after being awarded a penalty just eight minutes from fulltime.
Frenchman Valere Germain took the kick from the spot and beat the Perth keeper to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead.
But as the clock ticked away it was obvious Perth had more gas in the tank, launching waves of attack.
When they equalised with 90 seconds left to play, local fans would have been worried a third Perth goal would come.
But the Bulls hung in there to salvage a point.
Conceding his side had been flat, Sterjovski said he was still disappointed that the three points had slipped away.
As for the poor start to the second half, he said his instructions at half time were to go out there and have a go.
“I didn’t tell them to shut up shop and protect the 1-0 lead,’’ Sterjovski said at the post match media conference.
“What I said to them was to be brave and to go for it,’’ he said.
The Bulls grabbed the lead after 10 minutes, courtesy of a goal from Ulises Davila, who had another massive game, including nearly scoring at least two more goals.
He probably will need a rest at some stage, too, but whether the Bulls can afford to leave him out for even one game is another question.
Dealing with an exhausting schedule and a string of injuries looms as the biggest challenge facing Macarthur FC as the business end of the premiership race is about to come into view.
It’s not going to be easy, because February is also top heavy with extra matches, as Sterjovski admitted at the media conference.
After five wins and seven draws, Macarthur are in fifth spot on the A-League ladder, but have played one extra game than everyone else.
In round 15, next Sunday, February 4, the Bulls are back home to host the team just above them on the table, Western Sydney Wanderers.
Kick off for what should be a big game for the Greater Western Sydney derby is 5pm.