During the break from A-League football, we enjoyed a successful Asian Cup for the Socceroos who had remarkably lifted the trophy less than 24 hours before “Our Beautiful Game” returned to AAMI Park. Melbourne City seemed to have improved despite a poor performance against the Mariners almost a month ago. The club returned from a busy trip to Abu Dhabi where they competed in two friendly matches. But now, it was back to competition as we hosted the Western Sydney Wanderers who had not yet won a match this season.
The inclusion of 3 new signings in the initial matchday squad was exciting, however the following day it was announced that Australian marquee signing Josh Kennedy was not fit to play this week. The other signings were 22-year-old Jack Clisby – a left-back from Perth Glory and Singaporean international defender Safuwan Baharudin who had trialed in Abu Dhabi before being signed. Both only made the substitutes’ bench.
The match started quite disappointingly as after just 5 minutes, the Wanderers’ new signing Yojiro Takahagi fortuitously scored as his indirect free-kick traveled all the way past Andrew Redmayne after it had failed to meet a player in the box.
This did not stop the home side from dominating the rest of the match as they upped the tempo. It led to a brilliant equaliser in the 24th minute; Koren played Mooy in behind the defense towards the byline before he intelligently lofted the ball back across the goal which was met by Jacob Melling’s head to score his first A-League goal. This movement only led to more goal threatening attacks from City.
Before the half had ended an injury, which was later announced as a rolled ankle, forced Ben Garuccio to come off which allowed Jack Clisby to be subbed on for his first appearance in his new colours. City continued to attack and created chances which weren’t converted but as the half-time whistle was blown, the signs for the second term looked great.
After the dominance shown by City in the second half, surely a goal had to come soon and in the 68th minute it certainly should have. Redmayne’s long ball met Williams who managed to find Iain Ramsay at the back post with an open net but the winger failed to convert. It was a chance that definitely had to be buried and the fans inside AAMI Park couldn’t believe it. Several opportunities were created but not converted and definitely not for the first time for this team.
But thankfully, just 5 minutes later the second goal for Melbourne City arrived. Jason Hoffman’s cut back to the edge of the box allowed our player of the season so far – Aaron Mooy – to control and bend one truly in the back of the net. An outstanding strike from and outstanding player put City in the lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Fans became more and more nervous and since it is such a common occurrence for our side to concede late in games, it was understandable. But in the end, the boys had done it. 3 points to Melbourne City who have now recorded 4 wins from the past 6 games. There are very promising signs for the team going into the latter stages of the season and a top 6 spot is now the bare minimum expectation.
Once again, Aaron Mooy played superbly along with Jacob Melling who continues to impress being just 19-years-old. With the improved form of Melbourne City and the potential debut of Josh Kennedy, fans will expect all 3 points in the third Melbourne Derby of the season at Etihad Stadium this Saturday.
Come on City!