Melbourne City has gone down to Western Sydney Wanderers on New Year's Day, suffering a narrow 2-1 loss at ANZ Stadium.
Ross McCormack's opener was cancelled out by two goals in two minutes during the first half to secure the result for the hosts.
Despite a spirited second half showing, City were unable to claw back the deficit as they were dealt their third loss in successive weeks.
City will look to bounce back next Saturday night as they face Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.
One change to last week’s eleven saw Ross McCormack elevated from the bench to replace Stefan Mauk.
The forward returned to his regular position after last week starting on the bench. Another week of rehab saw Warren Joyce elected to start the Scot as he impressed in his cameo last week.
It was a timid start to proceedings at ANZ Stadium as City and the Wanderers had a lot on the line coming into the contest.
City asserted their authority in the early stages, keeping the ball in their forward half and winning an early foul on the edge of the area. The effort – within Ross McCormack territory – saw the forward elect to clip the ball to the back post as his dead ball rolled out of play.
Despite the Wanderers working their way back into the contest, City were rewarded for their early pressure as McCormack found the back of the net. A wonderful cross from Nathaniel Atkinson saw the youngster cause doubt between the Western Sydney goalkeeper and defence as McCormack was on hand to slide in at the back post.
The goal sparked the match and indeed the Wanderers into action. The first chance came after 27 minutes as early substitute Jumpei Kusukami hit the wood work but it wouldn’t end there for the hosts.
Their first goal came after 32 minutes through a low strike from Oriol Riera and their second came only two minutes later as Mark Bridge netted in similar fashion.
The setback didn’t dishearten City as they were almost level after 39 minutes. A wonderful move from Nick Fitzgerald saw the forward honour the overlapping run from Scott Jamieson as the fullback was fouled in the area. McCormack saw his penalty saved low to the left, maintaining the hosts’ lead going into the break.
Looking to re-gain their ascendancy, City came out of the sheds on the front foot as Fitzgerald became an outlet for Joyce’s side.
His chance after 53 minutes saw him blaze over the bar while his layoff to McCormack after 62 minutes saw the Scot elect to take a touch in the penalty area as his strike was blocked by the Wanderers’ defence.
As the match went on, City became more frustrated by the Wanderers defensive block as the hosts put up their rear guard to play out the game.
City were inches from the equaliser after 72 minutes as substitute Daniel Arzani flashed an effort past Janjetovic’s left upright and the visitors pushed until the final minute of extra time to see if they could savage a point but it wasn’t to be as Western Sydney secured the smash and grab 2-1 win.
City head back to AAMI Park to face Wellington on Saturday 6 January in a double header with our W-League side. Kick-off 5pm for the women and 7.50pm for the men.
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