Finals football. Due to a very poor run going into this match, most Melbourne City fans had little hope in the lead up. The team had lost the last two matches of the season away from home against Perth Glory and Adelaide United causing plenty of worry.
Melbourne City lined up as follows:
Retre Chapman Kisnorbo Germano
Mooy Koren Paartalu
Williams Kennedy Novillo
The absence of a single natural full back added to the issues as Jack Clisby was out with an injury, while Safuwan Baharudin was sent back home due to a back injury. The match had started with no real intensity but the home side were first to threaten to take the lead. An early bit of work from Nathan Burns allowed him to strike one from outside the area only for it to go wide.
However, City found room shortly after as Koren played a great ball to David Williams who had time and space but the 27-year-old was not composed enough to get a convincing shot away. A great set-piece variation that was definitely practiced on the training ground almost allowed Harry Novillo to strike home but his effort was blocked. It seemed as though City were looking hungry.
Michael McGlinchey’s free kick had struck the top of the crossbar causing danger for Tando Velaphi. The half-time whistle was blown after a fairly even contest that had not balanced in either team’s favour yet.
Several minutes into the second half, the game took a drastic turn, fortunately in the favour of the visitors. Josh Kennedy received two brilliant deliveries in the space of two minutes that were both put wide. It was Germano at left back who had come on to his favoured right foot to produce two brilliant crosses for the big man. However, it remained scoreless.
Only two minutes later though Harry Novillo, who had been causing trouble on the left wing, strolled into the danger area before sliding back to Aaron Mooy whose shot was eventually turned in by Josh Kennedy. It was an unbelievable moment as City had taken the lead but there was still plenty of work to be done.
Wellington wanted to push forward but failed to test the City defence and goalkeeper. It led to a counter attack for Melbourne City where Paulo Retre had delivered to Novillo before the Frenchman’s shot was deflected onto the post and off goalkeeper Glen Moss’ back – into the net! A fortunate but nonetheless historic moment for City. Their lead was doubled and seemed all but certain to advance into the semi-finals.
The home side were unable to get back in the game. As the final whistle was blown, City were through. We had booked a semi final against our cross town rivals – Melbourne Victory vs Melbourne City at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, something City fans thought they could only dream of.
Come on City!