Melbourne City have progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Westfield FFA Cup after defeating NPL Queesnland’s Brisbane Strikers 2-1 on Wednesday night.
A double from Bruno Fornaroli from the spot secured the come from behind win for John van’t Schip’s side after the locals pushed the A-League side all the way at Perry Park.
The night also marked the debuts of Josh Rose, Neil Kilkenny and Brad Clarke but the 3,571 strong crowd were also treated to the first domestic appearance of Tim Cahill in almost 20 years as the Socceroos all-time leading goal scorer played his first 30 minutes for the Club.
After a heavy downpour in Brisbane during the day, the Perry Park surface left a lot to the imagination as both sides were greeted to the heavy conditions in Bowen Hills.
It was the home side who got off to the better start as City’s centre backs took time to adjust to the slick surface in the middle of the park.
Connor Chapman was caught in possession after eight minutes, dragging down his opponent and conceding a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the area. Rhys Merredith’s dipping set piece failed to trouble Thomas Sorensen but opened the match with an ominous sign.
The Strikers’ first clear cut chance came in the 18’ minute when a quick free-kick stalled the City defence, opening the door to Hiroki Omori who was smothered by Sorensen.
City worked their way into the contest with Nick Fitzgerald driving his low shot towards goal after 21 minutes, forcing a fine save from Michael Weier and a wonderful combination minutes later saw Fornaroli nod just off target but the Uruguayan was flagged for offside.
The turning point of the match came in the 34’ minute as the Brisbane Strikers took the lead. A pinpoint free-kick from Omori was guided into the back of the net by Greig Henslee as the home side shocked the visitors into action.
It took three minutes for City to reply as Henslee went from hero to villain. The defender took down Fitzgerald just outside the six yard box as Fornaroli stepped up to restore parity and settle his chargers.
As the match progressed, City looked to flex their muscle with the Strikers looking continually dangerous on the counter.
The Perry Park faithful had to wait until the 64’ minute to see the substitution they were waiting for. Tim Cahill entered the field for Anthony Caceres in the midfield as the Socceroo played his first minutes of football in almost two months.
Cahill had his first chance on goal after 73 minutes as he took advantage of Bruno Fornaroli’s neat work to storm through into the penalty area. The former Everton player showed his rustiness in front of goal, failing to pull the trigger as he was shut down by the Strikers defence.
It wasn’t long after that City found themselves in the lead as it was another penalty, through Bruce Kamau, that Fornaroli picked up his second for the night. The captain stepped up and slotted home to give his side the winning goal, albeit with a fight from the Strikers in the final minutes.
Although City were disappointed with their performance in part tonight, the tricky surface and a spirited Brisbane Strikers side evened the ledger between the semi-professional and professional sides on Wednesday as John van’t Schip’s side progressed to the Quarter Finals of the competition.