Notorious for their woeful form on their home patch, Dusan Mihajlovic had the northern beaches faithful feeling optimistic after he opened the scoring in the 6? minute following a foul on Michael Lloyd-Green.
The Bathurst junior dusted himself and delivered a teasing ball into the path of Brad Groves who had the presence of mind to create space for Mihajlovic who unleashed an unstoppable drive from 22-yards past Rams custodian Brody Crane.
Strike partner Craig Midgley doubled United?s lead four minutes later after he was given far too much room on the edge of the penalty-area, and a long afternoon looked in-store for Paul Carter.
Phil Moss? men then went for the jugular but, as has been their story all year, failed to show composure in-front of goal and a hatful of chances went begging leading into half-time.
Macarthur made them pay on the half hour mark when they pegged a goal back after former Northern Spirit utility Steven Baveas fired past Brad Swancott following some lazy Manly defending on the right-flank.
The Rams took their game to their more fancied opponents after the break and snared a deserved equaliser on 54? minutes.
Matt Toogood delivered an inch perfect ball onto the head of Glen Trifiro, who glanced his headed chance brilliantly at the first attempt past Swancott.
Both teams had chances to claim the three-points in what was a frenetic second stanza.
Shannon Hankin was denied by Swancott after 61? minutes when clear on goal, and seven minutes later Joey Schirripa went within inches of taking the lead for United but agonisingly side-footed just past Crane?s near post.
Rams substitute David Lagudi then tested Swancott with a stinging shot from the edge of the box with eleven minutes remaining and despite fielding a plethora of youngsters, it was Macarthur who was finishing the stronger.
In a moment that summed up the afternoon?s football, Manly?s central defender Pascal Julliard somehow sprayed an injury time effort over the bar from four-yards that most park footballers would have slotted in their sleep to ensure the match finished honours even.
A surprisingly upbeat Phil Moss felt the end result was fair on both teams:
?Credit to Paul and his team, they came at us and I thought they were outstanding,? he said. ?In saying that, after we went up 2-0 I expected us to go on with it but once again our focus altered.
?We created enough chances to have the result wrapped up before half-time but didn?t take them.
?This team likes doing things the hard way and while we would have loved two chances (in the semis) the boys respond best when their backs are to the wall.
?They will be ?up? for the Sydney United game and I have no doubt we can cause some damage in the coming weeks.?
His opposite Paul Carter sported a beaming smile outside the Cromer Park sheds:
?I couldn?t be prouder of the boys, what a great result,? he said.
?It could have gone pear-shaped had they dropped their heads after conceding two early but the fight amongst the boys is fantastic.
?The club has been decimated by injuries this week and the boys I sent out did an enormous job.
?At the start of the year if you would have said to me we will finish equal on points with Marconi and higher than Blacktown City and Penrith-Nepean United I would have taken it with both hands.
?For our first year back in the Premier League I think we have done ourselves proud,? concluded Carter.
Manly United 2 (Dusan Mihajlovic 6? Craig Midgley 10?)
Macarthur Rams 2 (Steven Baveas 30? Glen Trifiro 54?)
Venue: Cromer Park, Sunday August 3
Referee: Atila Stibinger
Assistant Referees: Nicholas Backo, Adrian Slack
Manly United FC: 1. Brad SWANCOTT; 3. Andrew MAILER (19. Richie WILLIAMS 45?) 4. Roberto HAMAD, 5. Pascal JULLIARD, 6. Brad GROVES, 9. Robbie CATTANACH, 10. Dusan MIHAJLOVIC, (8. Michael WILLIAMS 70?) 11. Craig MIDGLEY, (7. Chris PAYNE 70?), 12. Michael LLOYD-GREEN, 16. Joey SCHIRRIPA, 17. Sean BOWDEN
Substitutes Not Used: 21. Luke FEMIA (RGK), 18. Caetano LIMA
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Macarthur Rams: 1. Brody CRANE; 2. Craig COOLEY, 6. Dave GARDINER, 7. Matt TOOGOOD, (8. David LAGUDI 70?) 12. Shannon HANKIN, (21. Renato JELEN 89?), 16. Steven BAVEAS, 17. Adam WITHER, 19. Paul CRISP, 22. Glen TRIFIRO, 23. Josh FORD, 27. James YOUNG
Substitutes Not Used: 40. Roy BELL, (RGK), 15. Andrew KEADY, 35. Matthew SADLER
Yellow Cards: Paul Crisp 77?
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Steve Baveas (MR)
2 – Craig Cooley (MR)
1 – Brad Swancott (MU)
-By Andrew Prentice