Melbourne City FC has secured a 1-0 pre-season friendly win over fellow A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers in Shepparton on Friday night.
The match, played in front of 2500 local and travelling fans at the newly-unveiled Shepparton Sports City football facility, John McEwen Reserve, was decided through a first-half penalty from Daniel Arzani.
Warren Joyce opted for a strong starting line-up, with Polish midfielder and newly-signed marquee Marcin Budzinski a key inclusion after his arrival at the Club on Monday.
Without the injured Bruno Fornaroli in attack, City lined up with Budzinski in an attacking midfield role with Stefan Mauk in support, and Bruce Kamau and Daniel Arzani in advanced positions.
Michael Jakobsen, Neil Kilkenny, Nick Fitzgerald and Tim Cahill were rested, while Fernando Brandan travelled for the match to meet with fans and sign autographs on a warm evening in Shepparton.
With the Wanderers having played 120 minutes plus penalties in its FFA Cup Quarter Final against Blacktown City on Wednesday, Tony Popovic opted to travel to Victoria with a number of first-team players, complemented by a selection of youth.
The match commenced with high intensity, so much so that City defender Scott Jamieson had to be withdrawn from the match, replaced by Christian Cavallo, after appearing to fall awkwardly and tweak his back early in the first half.
Wanderers carved out the first half chance of the match via Nick Krousouratis, with his flick on from a corner glancing the top of the cross bar in the 10th minute.
A short time later Arzani slipped Cavallo through on goal, with the latter forcing a strong save from John Hall in the Wanderers goal in the 16th minute.
In the 21st minute, a short corner from City saw Arzani felled in the box and the teenage midfielder stepped up to slot the spot-kick past Hall, sending the stopper the wrong way.
Budzinski had a half chance after the half hour mark, dropping his free kick in front of Hall, but the ‘keeper collected easily.
The contest petered out somewhat prior to the break, with Western Sydney making a number of changes at the interval.
With only a handful of chances in the second half, City went close to doubling its lead as Mauk fired in Kamau’s cut back in the 83rd minute, while Eugene Galekovic was rarely troubled on an evening where both teams helped to usher in a new era for the facility at Shepparton Sports City.
City have one final behind-closed-doors friendly encounter against Adelaide United prior to the start of the A-League season, which commences on October 6 with a season opener against Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park.
Hyundai A-League Pre-Season Friendly
Melbourne City FC 1 (Daniel Arzani 21’ [PEN])
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
John McEwen Reserve, Shepparton
Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
Melbourne City FC Squad: 18. Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK), 3. Scott JAMIESON, 5. Bart SCHENKEVELD, 6. Osama MALIK (C), 11. Bruce KAMAU, 13. Stefan MAUK, 14. Daniel ARZANI, 21. Ruon TONGYIK, 25. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 26. Luke BRATTAN, 27. Marcin BUDZINSKI
Substitutes: 1. Dean BOUZANIS (GK), 9. Marcelo CARRUSCA, 12. Braedyn CROWLEY, 34. Connor METCALFE, 35. Ramy NAJJARINE, 26. Christian CAVALLO
Western Sydney Wanderers Squad: 30. John HALL (GK), 5. Brendan HAMILL, 7. Steven LUSTICA, 10. Alvaro CEJUDO, 11. Brendon SANTALAB (C), 24. Raul LLORENTE, 25. Chris HERD, 42. Keanu BACCUS, 49. Abraham MAJOK, 56. Jordan HALL, 65. Nick KROUSOURATIS
Substitutes: 40. Nick SUMAN (GK), 23. Lachlan SCOTT, 54. Kristian POPOVIC, 55. Thomas AQUILINA, 58. Dylan RUIZ-DIAZ, 59. Lochlan CONS