Melbourne City FC has been forced to share the spoils following a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
Bruno Fornaroli had a golden chance to put the visitors ahead in the 33rd minute from the penalty spot, but Paul Izzo was equal to the task producing a solid save. The Reds made the most of their second chance when Johan Absalonsen opened the scoring for the hosts in first-half stoppage time.
City hit back in the second period when Stefan Mauk’s poacher’s effort was buried into the back of the net, earning a point for Warren Joyce’s side.
City host Western Sydney at AAMI Park next Saturday night in the Club’s second last home game for the season, kick-off 7:50pm.
Head Coach Warren Joyce made two changes to the starting XI that faced Melbourne Victory a fortnight ago. Stefan Mauk replaced Bruce Kamau in the starting line-up, as the previously suspended Bart Schenkeveld replaced Manny Muscat who was moved to the bench.
City’s week off allowed Daniel Arzani to make a full recovery from the ankle injury that saw him substituted in the Melbourne Derby.
Melbourne City FC arrived in the City of Churches desperate to return to winning ways following three consecutive defeats.
With both teams eager to return to the winner’s list it came as no surprise that the opening five minutes saw several fouls conceded in a cagey period at Coopers Stadium.
Following a heated opening stanza, the hosts began to wrestle the ascendency and broke away for the first chance of the match in the sixth minute. Johan Absalonsen picked up the ball in a central position before playing a neat one-two with Ben Garuccio, Michael Jakobsen then denied the Reds with a brilliant block in the penalty area.
Moments later Marco Kurtz’s side sprung into attack again, but were denied by two brilliant blocks by Jakobsen and Bart Schenkeveld in the heart of City’s defence. Schenkeveld’s desperate block fell to Daniel Adlung, whose long-range effort from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Dean Bouzanis.
In the 13th minute Daniel Arzani sparked City into action, the 19-year-old made a superb run down the left wing before losing Michael Marrone with a neat cut-back and whipping a dangerous ball towards the back post. Bruno Fornaroli made an intelligent run, but his lunging effort was just short of the ball.
As the half wore on City began to settle the ship and gain the attacking ascendency. Arzani became increasingly prominent with several touches on the left wing, causing Marrone an early problem or two.
In the 28th minute the youngster received the ball before skipping past two Adelaide defenders and dribbling towards the penalty box, only to be downed by a reckless challenge by Jordan Elsey. Luke Brattan attempted to go under the wall with the resulting free-kick, but his effort was denied by the wall.
Two minutes later Brattan played a short corner to Arzani, the attacker proceeded to skip past three Reds defenders before attempting to catch Paul Izzo off guard with an effort aimed at the near post – the Reds keeper was equal to the task.
City’s attacking press continued and in the 32nd minute the away side were awarded a spot kick. Fornaroli played Dario Vidosic into the penalty area following a brilliant run by the Uruguayan, before a mistimed Elsey tackle fouled the attacker. Fornaroli stepped up to take the penalty, but a diving Izzo denied his powerful strike, with the keeper guessing the right direction.
Warren Joyce’s men continued to pepper the goals as the half drew to a close, with both Fornaroli and Brattan denied multiple opportunities. But despite City’s increased dominance, it was the hosts that opened the scoring in Adelaide.
In the first minute of added time, Nikola Mileusnic did superbly to find Nathan Konstandopoulos in the box. The youngster produced a well weighted cut back into the centre of the penalty box allowing Johan Absalonsen to bury the ball into the back of the net and hand Kurtz’s side a 1-0 lead into the break.
Much like the first period, Adelaide had the first chance of the second period. Former Melbourne Heart defender Michael Marrone played a perfectly weighted cross into the area which was met by Absalonsen, but much to City’s relief the Danes downward header was saved by Bouzanis.
In the 53rd minute, City’s possession in the attacking third would eventually prevail. Arzani found the ball on the edge of the area before whipping in a dangerous ball forcing the keeper into action, Izzo’s save fell to Stefan Mauk who buried his effort into the back of the net against his old side.
City’s equaliser seemed to spark the side from Melbourne into action, as a flurry of attacking chances followed. One of those chances fell to Oliver Bozanic, who blasted his effort from range way over the cross bar after he had superbly turned Isaias in the midfield.
Not long after, Fornaroli and City thought they had secured the three points when the Uruguayan found the back of the net in 78th minute. Second-half substitute Manny Muscat laid the ball off to Mauk in the penalty box, his cross then found Fornaroli, but the linesman’s flag was raised in the process.
With three minutes of regulation time remaining, Brattan hit a phenomenal 50-metre pass to Nick Fitzgerald. The second-half substitute then charged towards the box before losing Garuccio with a cutback and curling his effort just shy of the far post.
One minute later Vidosic’s cross again found Mauk in the 18 yard box, the midfielders acrobatic effort drifted inches wide of Izzo’s upright - an agonising finish to a frustrating night in front of goal for the away side.
City will look to return to winning ways when they host Western Sydney Wanderers at AAMI Park next Saturday night in their second last home game for the season, kick-off 7:50pm (AEDT).