Melbourne City’s Youth have resumed their Y-League campaign in style, defeating the Brisbane Roar 3-0 in Brisbane to continue their unbeaten run in this years competition.
Goals to Dylan Pierias, Zach Bates and Lucas Derrick did the damage for City, whilst James Delianov produced an immense performance between the posts to deny numerous Roar attacks.
The result means that City’s lead over the second placed Adelaide United atop the Y-League’s Group A now stretches to five points, with the two sides set to meet next round in the third last game of the campaign.
Finally back in action after the Christmas break and the bye that preceded it, Head Coach Joe Palatsides made several changes to the startling XI that defeated the Perth Glory 2-1 back on December 4.
Goalkeeper Delianov returned to the starting XI after a two-game absence – with Yaren Sozer returning to the bench to serve as his backup – whilst Bates started in place of Gianluca Iannucci.
The absence of Neil Kilkenny also enabled Pierias to return to the starting XI. The young defender, who became the first City Football Academy (CFA) graduate to play in the A-League when he appeared against the Brisbane Roar in February of the 2016/17 season, was returning to the Y-League after injury had robbed him of an appearance in the first half of the season.
On a humid, sunny day in Brisbane - a far cry from the monsoonal like conditions that had forced the abandonment of the two sides round one game at the CFA, it was the Roar who had the game’s first clear chance of the game - when Adam Sawyer put a ball into the middle that found Mirza Muratov unmarked in the area.
The Roar number 9 rose to head the ball goalward, however it was aimed directly at Delianov, who collected it comfortably.
The game then began to settle into a rhythm, City looking to establish their possession based style of play whilst the Roar played a high line – seeking to keep the ball in the City half.
The next clear chance of the game would fall to City, when in the 18th minute Palatsides side was awarded a free kick on the left wing.
Stepping up to take it, Josh Cavallo looped a dangerous ball in the area that Lucas Portelli rose highest to meet, however the defender could only steer his headed effort just wide of the near post.
Six minutes later City would again have a series of set piece opportunities to take the lead, however on both occasions from Roar Goalkeeper Macklin Freke was up to the challenge of keeping the game locked at 0-0.
The players would briefly break for a drinks break thanks to the humid conditions, before City would again go close following the games restart.
The chance came through Connor Metcalfe, acting as captain in place of the absent Denis Genreau, who attempted to curl a ball into the bottom left corner – with the ball sneaking just past the post and out for a goal kick.
The Roar would quickly counter however, with Bryce Bafford finding himself one-on-one with Delianov, with the Australian U19 goalkeeper producing a fine save to keep the game deadlocked.
A minute later Delianov would be called into action again, parrying Daniel Driver’s shot back into play and watching as the Roar’s number 16s follow up effort sailed over the bar for a goal kick.
Momentum would then swing back to City, with Bates, Pierias and Metcalfe all going close to opening the scoring for the visitors.
With pressure mounting, the breakthrough would finally be made in the 40th minute, when Pierias marked his return by finding space on the edge of the area and launching a tidy effort into the bottom corner to beat Freke and put City ahead.
With fellow wing-back Nathanial Atkinson already having made the leap to the senior side, Pierias will no doubt be hoping that the goal herald the arrival of the type of form he will need to tap into to springboard him into A-League contention.
City pressed hard again immediately following the restart, and when Lucas Derrick was twice denied only by a fine bit of defending from the Roar’s Emlyn Wellsmore it seemed that City were on the cusp of opening the game up.
However, referee Ryan Mooney would soon call time on the half, sending both teams into the rooms with the score at 1-0.
The Roar would take advantage of the break in play to collect themselves, and would have the second half's first clear chance on goal in the 55th minute.
Receiving the ball outside the area, Bafford would launch an audacious run into the penalty box before launching an effort goalward, with the Roar's danger man only denied an equalizer by a desperate City defence hurling themselves in front of his shot and deflecting the ball away.
Bafford would again go close five minutes later, breaking through the City defence for yet another one-on-one with Delianov.
Delianov would once again prove up to the task however, producing a strong save to keep City one goal to the good.
With the Roar starting the second half strongly, City pressed back, looking to grab a second goal and give themselves a bit of breathing room.
And they were rewarded almost instantly, when on 62 minutes Bates grabbed City's second.
Collecting the ball in the attacking third, Bates charged towards goal, beating a Roar defender, before calmly slotting the ball past Freke and into the bottom corner to give City their sought-after two-goal cushion.
Needing a result to give themselves any realistic chance of overhauling City atop the Y-League’s Group A, the Roar responded desperately following the kick-off.
Second half substitute Christian Aloisi, the son of Roar Senior Assistant Ross, had a gilt-edged chance to get one back for the hosts in the 73rd when he found himself unmarked and on the end of a ball into the City area from the wing.
However, the youngster could only spray his side footed attempt wide of the goals.
With the game entering it’s final stages, City would pounce on a tiring Roar defence in the 84th minute.
Looking to play the ball out, the Roar's defence would instead turn the ball over cheaply, with the ball falling to Derrick, who had enough time to guide the ball into the top corner and break the back of the Roar resistance as he put City ahead 3-0.
That was how the match would end, with City running out deserving 3-0 winners on the day.
City will next return to action on Monday January 8, when they host Group A’s second placed Adelaide United at the City Football Academy, with kick-off slated for 4.00pm.
The last meeting between the two sides came in Round 2, when the sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Marden Sports Complex in Adelaide. Braedyn Crowley was on the scoresheet for City in the clash, with Charlie Devereux scoring for the Reds.