Melbourne City FC has had its first competitive hit out ahead of the 2020/21 A-League season in a match against Melbourne Victory comprised of three 45-minute halves played behind closed doors at Marvel Stadium.
City’s A-League regulars played the first two 45-minute periods which ended 2-3 in its favour, while the final 45 minutes featured a line-up comprised mostly of younger Academy players.
City Starting XI: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 3. Scott JAMIESON, 7. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Jamie MACLAREN, 11. Craig NOONE, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 16. Taras GOMULKA, 19. Benjamin GARRUCCIO, 20. Adrian LUNA, 22. Curtis GOOD, 23. Marco TILIO
Victory Starting XI: Max CROCOMBE (GK), Storm ROUX, Adama TRAORE, Nick ANSELL, Leigh BROXHAM, Birkan KIRDAR, Aaron ANDERSON, Callum MCMANAMAN, Jake BRIMMER, Marco ROJAS, Luis LAWRIE LATTANZIO
It was an open start to City’s first pre-season fixture and Victory were on the scoreboard early with their captain Leigh Broxham finding the back of the net from outside the box in the sixth minute.
Other than a couple of nervy moments for Matt Sutton from back-passes that missed the mark, City had most of the play for the remainder of the opening 45 minutes.
Adrian Luna wasted no time getting back into the swing of things in his second season at City and combined well in midfield with new signing Taras Gomulka who played the deepest of a midfield three that also included Marco Tilio.
Striker Jamie Maclaren showed the defensive side of his game in the 17th minute, winning back the ball and finding Andrew Nabbout on the right wing who drove forward and shot with power but straight at Victory keeper Max Crocombe.
In his first outing in City colours, Nabbout was involved in plenty of action down the wing and had another chance a few minutes later but couldn’t generate enough power on his weak foot to trouble the keeper after cutting inside.
A lot of City’s play came down the right with Ben Garrucio, back in City colours for the first time since 2016, overlapping well and building chemistry with Nabbout.
City’s reward for controlling majority of the half came from a corner in the 38th minute. Craig Noone’s inswinger found an unmarked Curtis Good in the box and the central defender fired a header to the left of Crocombe and into the back of the net.
It was a much more even start to the second 45 minutes, with Victory starting to create more opportunities.
Much of City’s attacking moves came from counterattacks, with central defenders Rostyn Griffiths and Good proving hard for Victory to get past.
City’s front three continued to work well together, with Craig Noone becoming more involved as the trio created plenty of opportunities for each other.
A Luna through ball found Maclaren with plenty of space in front of him, before the striker was clipped from behind in the box and awarded a penalty.
He would make no mistake from the spot, burying the penalty into the bottom left corner to give City the lead 1-2.
Just minutes later, Maclaren had his second.
A forward run from Tilio drew a couple of Victory defenders before he picked out Maclaren in the box with a cross from the left wing.
Maclaren controlled it well, flicking the ball over his head and with the keeper out of position, blasted a shot through a congested penalty area into the back of the net.
City almost had its fourth in the 73rd minute when a delightful cross-field ball from Noone found Nabbout who’d timed his run perfectly to get in behind the defence, but his shot flew over the bar.
Victory pulled it back to 3-2 in the 81st minute with a Jake Brimmer free kick finding the top-left corner of Sutton’s goal.
Both City and Victory’s lineups looked very different in the final 45 minutes as both coaches opted to get minutes into younger and Academy players.
City Starting XI (final 45 minutes): 60. James NIEUWENHUIZEN (GK), 35. Raphel BORGES RODRIGUEZ, 36. Kerrin STOKES, 39. Idrus ABDULAHI, 40. Richard WINDBICHLER, 41. Mitchell GRAHAM, 43. Alec MILLS, 45. Max CAPUTO, 46. Sam MORRISON, 47. Lucas BYRNS, 48. Emin DURAKOVIC
City’s younger line-up started a little slow with Victory doing a lot of attacking and putting the City defence on the back foot.
Following a deflected shot, the ball drifted straight towards an unmarked Elvis Kamsoba at the back post who scored for Victory in the ninth minute of the period.
City’s defence continued to find itself under pressure but the experience of Richard Windbichler and some solid defending by Kerrin Stokes, his partner in the heart of defence, did enough to prevent any other big chances.
Mitchell Graham and Lucas Byrns combined and overlapped well down the right-hand side but City’s best chance of the period came in the 27th minute.
After being awarded a free kick a couple of metres outside the box, Alec Mills unleashed a curling left footed strike which hit the crossbar.
Stay tuned to melbournecityfc.com.au for highlights!