Melbourne City will be eager to return to the winner’s list when they host top-of-the-table Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
City suffered their first defeat of the new year in their mid-week fixture with the Mariners, going down 2-1 at Central Coast Stadium.
In hot and humid conditions in Gosford, it was the hosts that had the better of City in the opening stages. Following a flurry of chances, including a golden chance missed by Matt Simon, Central Coast took the lead in 32nd minute after Connor Pain buried his effort from inside the penalty area, leaving Eugene Galekovic with no chance.
For the second consecutive week City were dealt an early injury blow, as Osama Malik succumbed to a knock. His replacement, Lachlan Wales, netted City level with a beautiful header at the near post against his old side.
Frenchman Florin Berenguer made his first appearance since suffering a long-term calf injury, making an immediate impact off the bench with his assist for Wales.
City continued to press in search of a match-winner, but were struck against the run of play as Simon converted his penalty on the rebound following Galekovic’s initial save to secure the points.
Following a short turnaround, Head Coach Warren Joyce’s side will look to bounce back when they return home to face the Glory.
The ladder leaders lead the competition for goals scored, netting 31 goals in 13 matches, which sets up an enthralling encounter with the league’s strongest defence.
Perth staged a remarkable comeback last weekend to defeat Western Sydney at HBF Park. Goals on either side of the break from Kwame Yeboah and Roly Bonevacia handed the Wanderers a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute, before Perth’s Diego Castro pegged one back in the 70th minute.
Despite Tony Popovic’s side clawing a goal back, the Wanderers again responded seven minutes later through Abraham Majok to take a 3-1 lead. Western Sydney looked destined to secure the points, before a rampant Glory outfit finished with three goals in seven minutes to take the points with a 4-3 win.
Harrison Delbridge returns to the side after serving his one match suspension. Dario Vidosic and Osama Malik are likely to miss out on the contest.See our full team news.
Last time they met
The last time the two teams met was in Round 7, where City suffered a 1-0 defeat to Perth at HBF Park.
Despite having their fair share of chances, City returned to Melbourne without the points as Chris Ikonomidis’ solo strike on the stroke of half-time proved to be the match-winner.
What was said
Head Coach Warren Joyce
“You relish it really. I think as a manager or a player you want to play games,” Joyce added. The challenge of playing as an underdog for a change and having a go at the team that’s top of the league you want to give a good account of yourself. You believe that you’re better than them and you’ve got to go out there and show it."
Perth Glory Head Coach Tony Popovic
“We’ll put out a team that we believe will win ... It won’t involve resting anyone. Two off the bench and one when he was outstanding against Sydney as a starter. He’s a fantastic player, so that’s an easy one,” he said. We’ve come through very well in terms of the results in the last seven days, a difficult period. It’s only a six-day turnaround but at this stage that feels like a lifetime. We were very consistent in terms of the line-up until a week ago.”
Where and when
City host Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday night, kick-off 7:50pm. Get your tickets here.