The stage was set at AAMI Park for a massive showdown that would incidentally be very much a six-pointer.
Melbourne City: Played 22 matches. 6th. 30 points
Brisbane Roar: Played 21 matches. 7th. 25 points
A win for City would increase the gap to 8 points as we headed into the tail-end of the season knowing that a finals position is a must. Coming off two consecutive impressive victories against Newcastle and Sydney, we were in good form and having not lost in 7 appearances at AAMI Park, nothing but a win would be acceptable.
Josh Kennedy returned from injury and was immediately at the heart of the action. A ball from Koren in the opening moments of the match saw our Australian marquee man rise to meet it with his head, only to somehow be kept out allowing Jonatan Germano to tap it in for the early lead.
It begged the thought of whether it could be a massively dominant result but it was anything but. City opted to sit back for the majority of the match after the goal which provided the Roar with plenty of possession. James Brown, last week’s match winner, suffered an injury which brought him off and was replaced by Harry Novillo.
Brisbane looked the more threatening as they tested the Melbourne City defence but another brilliant performance by the pairing of Kisnorbo and Jaliens stopped most of their attacks. Tando Velaphi also failed to put a foot wrong once again and kept out every shot that hit him.
The second half continued to see a conservative City side that still had a few chances to kill off the game. Novillo and Germano both saw their attempts fly off target. Fortunately, despite having plenty of the ball, the Roar did not create any clear chances which kept off much of the stress for the home fans and the counter attacks that City were relying on couldn’t be thrived on.
Novillo once again picked up the ball in space in his own defence before striding on towards the other end. He ignored the option Koren provided on the left and opted to shoot himself which allowed a comfortable save for Young in goals.
In the end the three points were ours. However, they weren’t gained in the expected fashion. Fans wanted to see an attacking showcase to provide excitement but City displayed very little of it. Perhaps a while ago (like against CCM in round 6) we would’ve given up a goal late in the match as the team sat deep piling on the pressure, but we were able to win ‘ugly’ similar to last week against Sydney.
The win was the third successive victory and finals, unless an immensely disappointing run-in to the end of the season awaits, seems certain. But will we make it beyond the first round – elimination final?