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'A Team to be Proud of': 3 things we learned - Wanderers vs City

The City boys have done us proud again, with Jamie Maclaren finding the back of the net for a late winner to secure a 3-2 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers, ensuring that we go into our first bye of the season as league-leaders.

Having gone 1-0 down in just the 2nd minute of the game following a Kwame Yeboah tap-in, it was always going to be a difficult road back to parity, given the Wanderers’ staunch defensive record. However, a fortunate – though deserved – penalty early in the second half was put in the back of the net by our in-form #9, bringing the game back to 1-1.

Lachie Wales silenced his doubters with an exceptional cameo off the bench, playing a key role in setting up our second goal when he teamed up with Maclaren to win the ball near our offensive left corner, before slipping through JMac who was then able to set up Josh Brillante for a comfortable tap-in – his first goal for the club.

The Wanderers pegged a goal back in the final ten minutes of the game when Alex Meier chose to unselfishly head the ball into the path of the unmarked Kwame Yeboah instead of trying to finish from the aerial cross himself, with Yeboah able to smash the ball into the back of the net.

Just as it seemed the spoils would be shared, Lachie Wales worked hard to find space on the wing in stoppage time, cutting the ball back for Jamie Maclaren in the middle of the penalty area who was able to place the ball into the back of the net with lethal precision, securing the three points for City.

After another impressive performance from the lads, here are three things we learned:

This team is resilient

Each time we’ve fallen to an embarrassing loss this season – the FFA Cup to Adelaide and Brisbane last week – the boys have put in an inspiring three-point performance in the next game.

A loss to Western United in Round 3 would have caused outrage; fans couldn’t have possibly compartmentalised any further heartbreak within a single week. Instead, the team dug in after going down to 10 men at 1-1 with a third of the match to play and ended up plucking a last-minute winner to come away from Geelong with the crucial three points.

Similarly, the City boys recovered from their embarrassing second-half performance against Brisbane by clawing themselves back into last night’s match after conceding the early goal, eventually securing an invaluable first interstate win of the season.

The team’s not perfect yet and there are going to be rough patches and disappointing performances, but the resilience on display from the lads has been very pleasing to see and is a central characteristic of championship-winning sides.

Cabrera’s coming into form

Without being exceptional last night, Cabrera’s performance could be viewed as yet another incremental improvement on his last.

The Uruguayan winger’s looking dangerous on the ball and there were several instances in last night’s win where he appeared more likely to score than any of our other attacking players.

With Craig Noone finding himself stuck in a bit of a funk, it’s important for Cabrera to continue the incremental improvements and to become a regular contributor of goals to support Jamie Maclaren, so that when opposition defences eventually figure out how to stop our record-breaking striker they’ll still have to deal with the attacking threat of Cabrera, Noone (hopefully sooner rather than later), our advanced midfielders and our high-operating fullbacks.

Maclaren’s our best, but Brillante’s our most important

Alright, alright… JMac’s a gun.

It’s just hard to see him getting the same quality and quantity of goalscoring opportunities that he gets without the industrious work rate, midfield orchestration and playmaking abilities of Josh Brillante.

The guy’s incredible; he’s excelled in both advanced and holding midfield roles, as well as in his one-off appearance at centre-back against Wellington.

Admittedly, his freedom to play his dangerous brand of football is facilitated by the defensive support of Rostyn Griffiths and, most often, Scott Jamieson, who also moves into midfield as we transition the ball forward.

Without an established attacking midfielder on the teamsheet every week – Metcalfe, Genreau and Luna have been in and out sporadically – Brillante has taken on the responsibility of advancing the ball from midfield into the final third with aggressive, driving runs towards the penalty area, in addition to his surprising ability to slip in behind defenders to set up goals in the six-yard box.

Our best acquisition of the off-season.

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