Melbourne City FC has been held to a 2-2 draw against Adelaide United in its second last game before finals at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night.
City went into half-time sitting two goals up after Adrian Luna and Jamie Maclaren both got their names on the scoresheet.
After going down to 10-men in the second half, City conceded twice as Adelaide drew level late in the contest.
City will look to bounce back and secure a semi-final position when they take on Western United next Wednesday 19 August.
Erick Mombaerts made one change to the starting XI that defeated Sydney last match. Scott Jamieson dropped out of the team after returning home for family reasons, with Nathaniel Atkinson stepping into his full-back spot. Josh Brillante took the armband in Jamieson’s absence and Rostyn Griffiths was named on the bench after joining the Hunter Valley hub late last week.
There wasn’t too much for the highlight reel in the first half hour of this clash with both teams taking their time to build their way into the game.
Despite neither team really having any major chances in that period, Adelaide had the better of the play and looked to be slightly on top until City scored against the run of the play in the 33rd minute.
Craig Noone had been involved (two goals and one assist) in all of City’s last three goals coming into this match, and that trend continued with City’s first.
Noone’s cross into the box found Adrian Luna who did well to direct his header past Paul Izzo to open the scoring.
City found its feet quickly from that point, as Florin Berenguer started to get on the ball more and showcase his creativity and passing skills.
Jamie Maclaren doubled the lead just seven minutes after the opener. A Luna cross was deflected but Maclaren was good enough to adjust, rise up, and bury his header into the back of the net. This was Maclaren’s 20th goal of the season, which saw him re-gain the outright lead in the golden boot race.
Atkinson began to stamp his influence on the game early in the second half. He showed no fear in driving forward through Adelaide’s defence, with one of his runs almost resulting in a Maclaren goal, but the strikers shot cannoned into the upright.
With around half an hour to go and its season on the line, Adelaide started to throw caution into the wind to try and get back into the game. A straight red card to Noone in the 67th minute helping their cause.
Adelaide won a penalty ten minutes later and Kristian Opseth made no mistake from the spot, drawing United back to within a goal.
City’s spent the next ten minutes defending for its life, with all the play being around its penalty area as Adelaide pushed hard for an equaliser.
After a resilient display from Tom Glover and the rest of the City defence, they eventually cracked from the intense Adelaide pressure.
Ben Halloran beat his man and cut inside before he slid the ball past Tom Glover into the bottom corner.
After equalising, Adelaide didn’t let up and continued to press hard for another, even throwing goalkeeper Paul Izzo up for a couple of late corners but City was able to hold on and split the points.
City will face Western United next Wednesday night in its last game before finals. This match will kick off at 7:30pm and will be live on FOX Sports and streamed on Kayo and the MyFootball Live app.