Melbourne City’s Y-League squad suffered their second defeat of the 2018/19 Y-League season on Saturday, going down 3-1 to the visiting Brisbane Roar.
Despite coming into the fixture off the back of two straight wins, City didn’t get off to the best of starts in the contest; falling behind in the 14th minute when midfielder Josh Cavallo inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.
Moudi Najjar was able to drag City back into the contest in the 27th minute, though, when he got on the end of a perfectly weighted through ball from Jordy Bos and poked the ball past Roar goalkeeper Macklin Freke to make it 1-1.
Roar, nevertheless, was able to seize back the lead just before the half when Daniel Leck snuck in behind the City defence to receive a pass before shooting past James Delianov in the 45th minute.
Mirza Muratovic then sealed the contest for the visitors in the 74th minute when he capitalised on an error from newly introduced goalkeeper Majak Mawith; pouncing on a loose ball that the young keeper had let slip from his grasp and prodding home.
Senior A-League player Iacopo La Rocca took up a position in the heart of the City defence for the clash, getting some much-needed mileage into his legs as returns from injury.
He was joined in Palatsides’ starting XI by Young Socceroo James Delianov, Joey Josh Varga and 15-year-old Idrus Abdulahi.
Ben Perias, Connor Metcalfe, Anthony Lesiotis and Ahmad Taleb all made way for the new additions.
Though signs leading in had promised anything but, conditions were perfect as the two sides ran out on C.B Smith Reserve, a stark contrast to some of the wet and wild Y-League matches the two sides had contested in the past.
Winger Abdulahi had the first shot in anger from either side, finding space in the 7th minute and flashing an effort from outside the penalty area just to the left of the Roar goal.
Roar then had their first clear chance of the encounter just two minutes later when City failed to properly clear a corner, the ball falling to Leck atop the area.
The dangerous attacker pounded a dangerous looking effort goalward only to be denied by the woodwork, with the ball bouncing back into play for City to, finally, clear.
However, another corner for the Roar five minutes later proved much more fruitful for the side in orange, resulting in them taking the lead after a defending La Rocca rose highest to meet the ball swung in from the right. The A-League defender was unable to make proper contact with his attempted headed clearance, with the ball instead ricocheting off his head and off Cavallo before nestling into the bottom corner of the City goal.
Looking to bounce back in the 20th minute, City’s Iannucci found room to work outside the area and teed up a lethal looking long-range shot, but was just denied by an acrobatic, one-handed save from Freke.
Najjar had more luck in the 27th minute, nevertheless, grabbing his fourth goal of the season after getting on the end of Bos’ scything through ball and making it 1-1.
Leck and Bos would then have competing chances as both sides duelled for the advantage but it was the Roar who would win the arm wrestle, Leck striking late in the half to give his side the advantage going into the main break.
City came out strongly as the second half resumed, Varga beating a number of Roar defenders as he stormed into the area in the 47th minute.
The midfielder, though, was just unable to pull the trigger – stopped by a late, desperate sliding challenge by the Roar defence.
Unfortunately for City, from that point onward the Roar began to take control.
Muratovic cut inside and blasted a blocked effort on goal in the 50th minute, senior A-League player Shannon Brady found Leck in a dangerous position on the left that he was unable to capitalise on in the 58th minute and Brady put a free kick from a dangerous position over the bar in the 63rd minute.
Eventually, the City dam, in rather unfortunate circumstances, broke in the 74th minute.
Newly introduced Mawith, who was still acclimatising to the conditions and trying to sort out his bearings after his introduction just a minute prior, fumbled what appeared to be a comfortable save after a long-range Roar effort.
Muratovic was then there to pounce on the follow-up, continuing his rich run of goalscoring form for the Queenslanders by sliding a shot into a now open goal and sealing the game.
Fourth on the Conference A table after round six, City will be at home once again next week when they welcome second-placed Adelaide United to C.B Smith Reserve on Sunday, 23 December.
City and the Reds have both only played four games so far this Y-League season, meaning that the winner of the contest will nicely position themselves to make a late run for the conference’s grand final slot.