Melbourne City FC has booked a place in the Round of 16 with a 3-1 win over NPL Champions Campbelltown City at Steve Woodcock Sports Centre on Wednesday night.
Jamie Maclaren opened the scoring with an intelligent finish at the back post inside the opening 11 minutes, before the hosts hit back from the penalty spot in the 26th minute through captain Iain Fyfe.
In his first competitive match in charge, Head Coach Erick Mombaerts’ side restored the lead, as debutant Craig Noone struck with a curling effort from range to hand the visitor’s a 2-1 half-time lead.
Following a subdued second period, City secured their place in the FFA Cup Round of 16 as Jamie Maclaren met Adrian Luna’s perfectly weighted cross with a glancing header to secure his brace in the third minute of additional time.
City’s new signings Javier Cabrera, Craig Noone, Scott Galloway and Joshua Brillante all made their starting debuts for the Club.
In cool conditions in Newton, South Australia, Erick Mombaerts’ men looked determined to silence the home crowd from the get-go.
Frenchman Florin Berenguer tried his luck from range, stinging the keeper’s palms, before Jamie Maclaren broke through Campbelltown’s defence only to dink his effort over Harpas and just wide in the ninth minute.
Less than two minutes later, City’s potent attacker made amends with a clever finish at the back post to put the visitor’s ahead. Youngster Connor Metcalfe picked up the ball on the edge of the area before playing the ball out to debutant Javier Cabrera, Cabrera then whipped in a dangerous cross towards the back post which was met expertly by the outside of Maclaren’s boot to make it 1-0.
In the 16th minute, Maclaren was back in the thick of things, as his glancing header was placed just wide, much to the relief of Campbelltown’s shot-stopper.
Despite City’s early ascendency, the hosts had a golden opportunity to claw their way back into the contest when Luigi Ditroia earned a spot kick following a challenge from Scott Jamieson. Experienced captain Iain Fyfe stepped up, making no mistake with a composed finish to draw level in the 26th minute.
On the half hour mark, City debutant Craig Noone continued his impressive start to the match, drawing a number of Campbelltown defenders before finding Metcalfe whose towering header glanced just wide. Less than 60 seconds later, the winger made it 2-1 with a driving effort from range. Noone picked up the ball on the right, before cutting onto his left and blasting it past the keeper.
As the first-half drew to a close, City goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis ensured the result remained 2-1 at the break, denying former City player, now Campbelltown attacker, Marc Marino with a diving effort.
In the opening moments of the second-half, NPL Champions Campbelltown City demonstrated their class, keeping possession with a lovely passage of play. Despite controlling much of the play in the opening few minutes, the hosts were unable to release a meaningful shot on goal.
As the half wore on both sides continued with a cautious approach, with no real meaningful threat in front of goal in the opening 30 minutes. That was until Campbelltown struck with a late flurry ignited by Marino’s near-miss in the 76th minute. The attacker latched onto a perfectly weighted cross, but his glancing header from beyond the near post drifted across the face of goal.
With five minutes of regulation time to play, Dion Kirk had a brilliant chance to find the equaliser for Campbelltown. Yohei Matsumoto beat two City defenders on the wing before finding Kirk, whose effort was driven straight down the throat of Bouzanis – much to the ‘keeper’s relief.
The hosts continued to press, but in the 93rd minute City would secure their passage through to the Round of 16 as Jamie Maclaren met Adrian Luna’s perfectly weighted cross to nod home and secure his brace.
City’s FFA Cup Round of 16 opponents will be drawn following the completion of the Round of 32.
Mombaerts’ side return to action next week, taking on NPL Victoria powerhouse Bentleigh Greens at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex on Tuesday 6 August, kick-off 7:30pm.