Melbourne City FC's quest to reach its first ever Westfield FFA Cup Final came to an end with a 3-1 defeat against Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Wednesday night.
Despite being in control for periods of the Semi Final contest, City found themselves behind against the run of play in the 25th minute, when Gyorgy Sandor slotted home the rebound after Tando Velaphi saved Chris Harold’s initial header.
But John van’t Schip’s side responded in swift fashion, with debutant Matthew Millar capping an impressive maiden appearance with his first senior goal in the 42nd minute, glancing a back post header past Ante Covic to level the scores.
City suffered a bitter blow on the stroke of half time when Ben Garuccio looped his clearance over the head of Thomas Sorensen for an unfortunate own goal, before Harold wrapped up the win in the second half to send the Glory to their second consecutive Westfield FFA Cup final.
With Sunday’s upcoming Hyundai A-League clash against the Central Coast Mariners in mind, van’t Schip made six changes to the line-up which started in the Melbourne Derby last weekend.
Jacob Melling and Ben Garuccio made a return to first team duty after recovering from long-term injuries, along with starts for goalkeeper Velaphi, Steve Kuzmanovski, Stefan Mauk and National Youth League regular Millar.
With set-pieces proving to be a trademark route to goal for Kenny Lowe's side, City nearly found themselves behind after only three minutes when Nebojsa Marinkovic’s curling corner cannoned off the shoulder of a surprised Chris Harold, who managed to find himself unmarked inside the six-yard box.
City began to dominate proceedings in the early stages of the first half, pegging the Glory deep in their own half during a sustained period of pressure, as midfielder Aaron Mooy began to assert his influence in the middle of the park.
Velaphi was called into action to prevent City from falling behind, re-adjusting superbly to tip the ball over the crossbar after Harold’s dangerous cross took a wicked deflection off the boot of Millar.
City continued to threaten up the other end of the pitch, with striker Bruno Fornaroli firing a warning shot across Ante Covic’s goal after linking up nicely with Wade Dekker inside the penalty area.
However it was a set-piece which proved to be City’s undoing in the 24th minute. A dangerous back-post corner from Marinkovic saw Velaphi make an excellent save from Harold’s initial header, only for Sandor to tap home the rebound and fire Perth into the lead.
Velaphi displayed immense bravery to prevent City from conceding a second goal, suffering a nasty head clash with Guyon Fernandez after flying out to punch clear Marinkovic’s arrowing free-kick.
With blood persistently flowing from his nose, the goalkeeper was unable to play out the rest of the game and was replaced in the 37th minute by Thomas Sorensen.
City continued to press forward towards the end of the first-half, with Ante Covic scrambling to cling on to a shot from Jack Clisby, before Aaron Mooy saw two goal-bound efforts blocked by a desperate Glory defence.
But it was debutant Millar who announced himself on the big stage, netting his first senior goal two minutes before the break. Making his senior debut on the right side of defence, the youngster evaded his marker at the back post, before flicking a smart header across Covic to level the scores.
Marinkovic continued to cause havoc in the City penalty area with threatening set-piece deliveries as Sorensen produced a smart save to hold on to Dino Djublic’s header, before City suffered a cruel blow on the stroke of half-time.
Fernandez showed great strength to control a long clearance from Covic, before pressuring the unfortunate Garuccio into looping his clearance over Sorensen and into the net as City trailed at the interval.
The second-half proved to be an open contest as City pressed forward in search of an equalizer. Kuzmanovski had a golden opportunity to level the scores in the 58th minute after latching on to Mooy’s deft touch in the area, but could only blaze his effort over the crossbar.
Set-pieces continued to be the order of the night for Perth as Sorensen was called into action once again, this time clawing a bouncing header from Djulbic over the crossbar to keep his side in the contest.
The injection of David Williams helped provide City with additional pace in the final third, and the substitute nearly made an instant impact in his first outing of the season. A fizzing long-range effort from Mooy forced Covic into a excellent diving save, before Williams stabbed the rebound agonisingly wide of the right hand post.
And the Glory delivered the killer blow only a minute later, as Harold latched on to a splitting pass from Diego Castro before slotting past Sorensen at the near post to deny City a spot in the FFA Cup final.
Westfield FFA Cup 2015 Semi Final
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Perth Glory 3 (Gyorgy SANDOR 24’, Ben GARUCCIO OG 45’, Chris HAROLD 72’)
Melbourne City FC 1 (Matthew MILLAR 43’)
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Referee: Shaun Evans
Melbourne City FC Line-up: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK) (Thomas SORENSEN 37’), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 8. Aaron MOOY (C), 17. Wade DEKKER (David WILLIAMS 58'), 19. Ben GARUCCIO, 21. Stefan MAUK, 22. Jack CLISBY (Patrick KISNORBO 77'), 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 25. Jacob MELLING, 28. Steve KUZMANOVSKI, 36. Matthew MILLAR
Substitutes not used: 15. Stefan ZINNI, 18. Paulo RETRE
Yellow cards: Melling 80’
Red cards: nil
Perth Glory Line-up: 1. Ante COVIC (GK). 3. Marc WARREN, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 7. Gyorgy SANDOR, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC (Hagi GLIGOR 90+3’), 14. Chris HAROLD, 17. Diego CASTRO (Sidnei SCIOLA 73’), 18. Mitchell OXBORROW (Diogo FERREIRA 46’), 19. Joshua RISDON, 20. Guyon FERNANDEZ, 23. Michael THWAITE
Substitutes not used: 12. Jerrad TYSON (GK), 2. Alex GRANT
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil