Melbourne City has continued its pre-season preparations behind closed doors on Wednesday, defeating the Central Coast Mariners 3-2 at City Football Academy, Melbourne.
Goals from the starting forward trio of Nick Fitzgerald, Bruno Fornaroli and Daniel Arzani secured the result in the see-sawing affair as Andrew Hoole’s brace headlined the visitors performance, going agonising close to completing his hat-trick.
The sides battled it out in a modified time format with one 45 minute and two 30 minute periods in blustery conditions in Bundoora and the contest began with both sides looking to feel their way into the match.
As the tempo picked up, it was City who were to make the first blow, finding the back of the net after 11 minutes quite fortunately through Arzani. The winger’s dangerous run was honoured by a wonderfully clipped through ball by Fitzgerald, with Mariners keeper Ben Kennedy fumbling the awkward pick-up into the path of on-coming forward, finishing into an open net.
The Mariners didn’t let the early set-back halt their possessional play and were rewarded after 23 minutes as a line-splitting through ball from Liam Rose found Hoole with acres of space through the City defence. The talented midfielder made no mistake with the finish, slotting low, past Dean Bouzanis' outstretched left foot.
City began on the front foot in the second stanza with an early chance to Fornaroli stinging the palms of Tom Glover but that effort would be a precursor to City restoring their lead after 53 minutes.
A brilliant combination between Fornaroli and Fitzgerald saw the latter played in to the penalty area as the forward performed a signature cut onto his left foot before finishing at the far post.
Warren Joyce’s side would be pegged back again minutes later as a cynical foul on Josh Bingham by Osama Malik on the edge of the area opened the door for Hoole to show his set piece arsenal.
The midfielder opted to strike towards the keeper’s side with Bouzanis beaten in the bottom corner by the low, powerful free-kick.
City would find the winner after 61 minutes as Scott Jamieson’s quick free-kick played Fornaroli through with two defenders to beat in the forward half. City’s number 23 teased his way past both Mariners stoppers, finishing with aplomb past Glover.
The visitors had the chance to tie the match for the third time minutes before the end of the second period as Luke Brattan fouled Bingham in the penalty area, seeing Hoole step up to the spot.
The former Newcastle Jet crashed his effort into the crossbar, with the follow up scrambled away by the City defence, seeing Warren Joyce’s side ride out the final period and maintain their unbeaten pre-season.
Melbourne City FC - 3 (Arzani 11', Fitzgerald 53', Fornaroli 61')
Central Coast Mariners - 2 (Hoole 23', 55')
Melbourne City FC
Starting lineup: 1.Dean BOUZANIS, 2.Manny MUSCAT, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 6.Osama MALIK, 7.Nick FITZGERALD, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 26.Luke BRATTAN
Bench: 18.Yaren SOZER, 12.Braedyn CROWLEY, 15.Denis GENREAU, 17.Tim CAHILL, 32.Christian CAVALLO, 35.Ramy NAJJARINE, 36.Dylan PIERIAS, 37.Nathaniel ATKINSON
Central Coast Mariners
Starting lineup: 1.Ben KENNEDY, 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Anthony GOLEC, 15.Alan BARO, 4.Jake MCGING, 6.Tom HIARIEJ, 16.Liam ROSE, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 11. Connor PAIN, 17.Josh BINGHAM
Bench: 20.Tom GLOVER, 13.Kwabenea APPIAH, 23.Wout BRAMA, 21.Kai ROWLES, 8.Michael STOJANOVSKI, 10.Daniel DE SILVA, 14.Adam BERRY, 2.Storm ROUX