Match Report: Sydney 1-1 City
Melbourne City claimed a well-earned point via a very late Jamie Maclaren penalty against Sydney on Saturday night – the Club’s first draw of the season.
There were two changes from Monday night’s line-up with Adrian Luna and Scott Galloway earning starts with Nuno Reis and the injured Nathaniel Atkinson making way.
The 5G Network (Tom Glover, Scott Galloway, Curtis Good, Rostyn Griffiths and Ben Garuccio) resumed their defensive service for the second time this season whilst Luna, Connor Metcalfe and Florin Berenguer made up what was a very mobile midfield.
In blustery conditions at Leichardt Oval in Sydney, it was a frenetic start from both teams with end-to-end action being underscored by difficulty in controlling the unpredictable football.
Ex-City man Luke Brattan attempted an audacious chip that was well kept out by Glover, whilst at the other end it was the in-form Craig Noone who landed a cross-cum-shot on to the cross bar as a warning to the Sky Blues.
There were few clear-cut chances in the first half but the second half proved to be a different case entirely.
A stellar through ball around the defender from Galloway to Maclaren provided City’s best moment to of the game but City’s star marksman was well saved by Socceroo Andrew Redmayne on the first effort, with the second effort tipped wide.
But it was Sydney that would strike first as Tom Glover mishandled in the congested 25-yard box that led to a frenetic game of pinball. Kosta Barbarouses’ shot fired into the leg of Curtis Good on the goal line however after some VAR deliberation the ball was deemed to have crossed the line and Sydney were awarded the lead merely 7 minutes into the second half.
City’s response was swift and aggressive and going behind initiated an increasing phase of pressure on the hosts.
For the second week running it was Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio who made instant impacts from the substitutes bench and both Noone and Maclaren were close in finding the equaliser from Colacovski passes.
Ultimately it was deep into six minutes of stoppage time however when Maclaren fed Tilio down the right-hand side of the box and Sydney stalwart Alex Wilkinson committed to a sliding challenge. A quick thinking Tilio pulled the ball back to shape for the left foot shot however Wilkinson took the winger with him and following a brief VAR deliberation, City were awarded a spot kick.
Maclaren stepped up and expertly dispatched the penalty into the top right corner with his 14th goal of the season and 93rd of his A League career. He becomes the outright second highest scorer in A-League history.
City almost found a winner in the last phase of the game as Colakovski struck a deflected Tilio cross only to be denied by an onrushing Sydney defence.
The draw solidifies City’s hold on second place and closes the gap to the top of the table Mariners to just two points with a game in hand.
Melbourne City return to AAMI Park this Saturday April 17 at 7.10pm to take on arch-rivals Melbourne Victory in what is set to be another exciting Melbourne Derby. Tickets on sale now at Ticketek.