Melbourne City’s Y-League season has gotten off to a madcap start in recording a 6-6 draw with Perth Glory.
Recipients of a bye in week one of the campaign, City welcomed Glory to C.B Smith Reserve in Melbourne’s north looking to kickstart a season in which the club is looking to return to the Y-League Grand Final after having a two-year run snapped in 2018/19.
That quest got off to a good start for Head Coach Petr Kratky’s side when Raphael Borges Rodrigues netted in the 23rd minute to make it 1-0.
Goals to Trent Ostler and Ciaran Bramwell in the 35th and 40th minute then briefly had the visitors ahead, only for Moudi Najjar and Kerrin Stokes to answer back with late first-half goals to give City a halftime lead.
Stefan Colakovski then made it 4-2 moments into the second half and, though Daniel Walsh dragged it back to 4-3 in the 56th minute, Borges Rodrigues' second on the hour mark restored the two-goal buffer.
When Jordi Valadon made it 6-3 in the 64th minute one could have been forgiven for thinking City had done enough to earn the three points.
Yet, more drama was soon to come, as two further goals to Bramwell and another for Bafford enabled the Glory to roar back and, somehow, earn themselves a point.
Joe Gauci made his City debut in goal for Glory’s visit, starting behind a back four of Mark Karlic, Stokes, Gideon Arok and Daniel Lucente.
Captain Nick Hatzigeorgiou started as the six, sitting behind midfielders Luke Oresti and Valadon.
Najjar started at the tip of City’s spear, flanked by Colakovski and Borges Rodrigues.
It was a scintillating, solo-effort from Borges Rodrigues that opened the scoring on Saturday; the young winger receiving the ball on the right before driving inside the penalty area – leaving his marker for dead – before firing into the far bottom corner to make it 1-0.
That effort was almost mirrored up the other end in the 35th minute when Ostler drove up the touchline on the left and from an acute angle blasted an effort past Gauci to restore parity.
Lax defending – something that would become a feature of goals City conceded – was then displayed as a free-kick into the City penalty area was nodded onward and led to a loose-ball chase between Gauci and Bramwell that the Glory player won; poking home to make it 2-1.
The Y-League’s top scorer in 2018/19, Najjar demonstrated his pressing value as he restored the game to equilibrium after he nipped in to intercept a Glory back pass and slide an effort beyond Perth keeper Josh Langdon in the 40th minute.
Continuing to press as the half wound down – going agonisingly close on a number of occasions – City was then able to take the lead late, late in proceedings when Stokes was on hand to scramble the ball over the line after Glory failed to clear a corner swung in from the right.
Having recently made his A-League debut, winger Colakovski then made it 4-2 just seconds into the second stanza when he was in the right place at the right time to collect a deflected save from Langdon and fire in the rebound.
A smartly executed set-piece move and some wayward marking from the City defence enabled Walsh to meet a free-kick chipped into the penalty area with a volley that brought the game back to 4-3, only for Borges Rodrigues to grab his brace in the 60th minute when Najjar broke behind Perth’s lines and slid a ball into his path that allowed him to thunder an effort home.
Just under five minutes after that Valadon broke behind the Perth lines and struck a sweetly struck into the bottom corner to make it six but Bramwell, after shrugging off two City defenders converging on him, responded three-minutes later to make it 6-4.
The Perth man then sealed his hattrick in the 74th minute after guiding a shot from outside the area beyond a despairing hand of Gauci and into the bottom-right corner to reduce the deficit, remarkably, to a single goal.
The comeback was then sealed in the 83rd minute when a sloppy turnover in defence allowed Perth to work the ball to Bafford atop the penalty area; the Glory attacker promptly sending the ball home to make the scores an astounding 6-6.
Perhaps looking for a slightly more regulation contest, City will next week travel to Shepparton to host the visiting Brisbane Roar at John McEwan Reserve at 3.00 pm.
The game will serve as the opening game of a double-header, with City’s W-League side set to meet Adelaide United’s women at the same venue at 7.00 pm.