Melbourne City FC put in a lacklustre performance in a disappointing 3-0 defeat to the Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park on Friday night.
After a tense opening half saw both sides enter the break on level terms, the Wanderers drew first blood immediately after the interval when Mitch Nichols found himself unmarked at the back post to turn home Dario Vidosic’s cross for the opening goal.
Tony Popovic’s side soon doubled their advantage in controversial circumstances when referee Peter Green used his discretion to allow Scott Neville to continue play - despite Vidosic being in an offside position - as Federico Piovaccari tapped home the resulting cut-back to net his first Hyundai A-League goal.
Mark Bridge added a third goal only six minutes from time, but the damage was already done as City slumped to a second consecutive home defeat.
After an encouraging win away from home against Adelaide United in Round 5, Head Coach John van’t Schip was required to make some enforced changes to the starting line-up which took the field against the Reds.
An injury to skipper Patrick Kisnorbo saw Aaron Hughes make his Hyundai A-League debut in the centre of defence, while Steve Kuzmanovski returned to the starting XI in place of the injured David Williams.
Harry Novillo made his first start of the season after a bright substitute cameo against Adelaide last week, with Stefan Mauk shifting back into the centre of midfield to replace Aaron Mooy, who was absent on international duty.
City were playing with fire inside the opening minutes when Hughes and ‘keeper Thomas Sorensen where hassled by an energetic Wanderers attack when attempting to play out of defence, eventually playing the ball clear to Erik Paartalu.
The towering midfielder then released Novillo through on goal with an inch-perfect through ball, only for Wanderers’ shot-stopper Andrew Redmayne to rush out and clear the danger.
Novillo was in a bullish mood from the outset as he produced a trademark run from the left, skipping around the challenges of Scott Neville and Andreu before firing a warning shot just wide of Redmayne’s right hand post.
It took a strong right hand from Sorensen to deny the Wanderers the opening goal in the 18th minute, as the Great Dane clawed an arrowing cross from Dario Vidosic away from the head of Nikolai Topor-Stanley, after the Wanderers skipper made a marauding run through the City defence.
Novillo was presented with a golden opportunity to open the scoring only two minutes later when Redmayne sprayed an errant clearance directly into the path of the winger, but the former City custodian atoned for his error superbly, racing out to smother the ball at the feet of the winger to keep the scores level.
Scott Jamieson then whistled in an arrowing free-kick which narrowly missed the head of Topor Stanley and the boot of Vidosic before flying wide of the post, while Connor Chapman prevented Italian striker Federico Piovaccari from tapping home at the back post with a superb last-ditch tackle, as both sides entered the break on level terms.
Van’t Schip made two changes at the interval as Jack Clisby and Corey Gameiro entered the match in place of Aaron Hughes and Steve Kuzmanovski, but it was the Wanderers who found themselves ahead only a minute into the second half.
It was the dangerous Vidosic who was the architect, firing in a bullet across goal which beat the outstretched hand of Sorensen, providing Nichols with the easiest of tap-ins at the back post.
Sorensen was twice called into action to keep City in the contest, copping a knock to the ribs after bravely denying Piovaccari before Vidosic fired a header straight into the arms of the goalkeeper.
But it was a moment of controversy which saw the Wanderers double their advantage in the 62nd minute, as Neville gathered possession despite Vidosic interfering from an offside position, squaring up to Piovaccari to net his first A-League goal.
Marshalled expertly by the Wanderers defence for majority of the evening, Bruno Fornaroli came close to pulling a goal back for City in the 77th minute, forcing Redmayne to brilliantly parry a thunderous free-kick right out of the top corner.
City’s misery was compounded only six minutes from time when Mark Bridge latched on to a cross-come-shot from substitute Jaushua Sotirio to fire past Sorensen at the back post.
Hyundai A-League Round 6
Friday, 13 November 2015
Melbourne City FC 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Mitch NICHOLS 46’, Federico PIOVACCARI 62’, Mark BRIDGE 84’)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Peter Green
Melbourne City FC Line-Up: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (GK) (C), 3. Aaron HUGHES (Jack CLISBY 46’), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 9. Harry NOVILLO (Hernan ESPINDOLA 65’), 18. Paulo RETRE, 19. Benjamin GARUCCIO, 21. Stefan MAUK, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 25. Jacob MELLING, 28. Steve KUZMANOVSKI (Corey GAMEIRO 46’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 16. Jason TRIFIRO
Yellow Cards: Garuccio 23’, Fornaroli 63’
Red Cards: Nil
Western Sydney Wanderers line-up: 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6. Mitch NICHOLS, 8. Dimas DELGADO, 9. Federico PIOVACCARI (Romeo CASTELEN 65’), 10. Dario VIDOSIC (Jaushua SOTIRIO), 12. Scott NEVILLE, 18. ANDREAU (Jacob PEPPER 76’), 19. Mark BRIDGE, 22. Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS.
Substitutes not used: 1. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 11. Brendon SANTALAB
Yellow Cards: Andreau 32’, Pepper 82’
Red Cards: nil