Melbourne City has progressed to the last 16 of the Westfield FFA Cup on Tuesday night as they defeated Western Australian NPL side Floreat Athena 2-1.
City came into the contest as heavy favourites and confirmed that status as Nick Fitzgerald opened the scoring for the visitors in the 32’ minute.
It was then Athena against the run of play to find the equaliser as route one football stumped the City defence after Chris Gate poked home to level the scores.
It wasn’t panic stations for City however as Anthony Caceres found the back of the net from 35 yards to restore City’s lead minutes later as John van’t Schip’s side maintained their dominance on the game to progress to the next round.
Both sides were greeted by difficult conditions at Dorrien Gardens with torrential rain hitting Perth over the past three weekends.
John van’t Schip selected a similar starting line up to that who began the match against Melbourne Knights last Tuesday night as the air of competition football brought a different level of determination to the side.
Although City kept the ball in their forward half for most of the first period, it was Luke Brattan on set pieces who looked most dangerous for City, creating the first chance in the opening minutes.
Osama Malik would then benefit from another brilliant set piece in the 28’ minute as a curling Brattan ball saw the defender force a fine save from Jason Saldaris in the Floreat goal.
The visitors continued the pressure and saw an opportunity cleared off the line before Fitzgerald found the breakthrough in the 32’ minute. The striker accelerated towards goal on the left wing, being trailed by Floreat defenders before unleashing a vicious strike that blind sighted Saldaris in goals.
The neat near post finish was just reward for City as they entered the break in the lead.
A timid start to the second half may have put City off guard as a set piece from Brattan that stung the palms of Saldaris was the A-League side's only real chance before the equaliser.
City’s high line was made to pay in the 59’ minute with a route one ball over the top of the back four opening the door to Gate who took a touch and poked his effort past Thomas Sorensen under immense pressure from Connor Chapman.
It would have seemed that City would resort to changing their game plan to find the winner however van’t Schip’s side continued their initial game plan, being rewarded only minutes later.
After a sustained period of possession, Caceres found room well outside the penalty area, unleashing a vicious strike that found the top corner.
The goal re-established City’s lead and allowed the visitors to control play with Floreat only finding one more clear-cut chance in the match to hit back.
A late break by danger man Jonathan Stynes had the City defence in high alert as the winger forced a sharp save from Sorrensen.
It wasn’t to be for Athena however as City ran out deserving winners, progressing on a night that had the potential to be trickier for van’t Schip’s men.
City will return to Melbourne to continue its pre-season preparations as it plans its next stage of friendlies before the Round of 16 of the FFA Cup.