What. A. Game.
In what might be touted as a game of the season contender given the top-two ramifications involved, our City boys weathered a second-half Perth Glory storm to hang on for a 3-2 win over at HBF Park in 30˚heat on Sunday evening.
Fans couldn’t believe their eyes when City took a 3-0 first-half lead following goals from Rostyn Griffiths, Florin Berenguer and Markel Susaeta, but were left head in hands early on in the second half when we found ourselves needing to defend a 3-2 lead with half an hour remaining in the match and with Perth peppering Tom Glover’s goal left, right and centre.
With another ‘typical City’ collapse on the cards, our boys dug their heels in and kept Perth out for the rest of the match to come away with the massive three points.
After such a rollercoaster evening, here’s what we learned from our big win:
We can score the goals – and win the game – without JMac
With Jamie Maclaren enduring a bit of a dry spell – scoring just once in his last six games – it was difficult to see where the goals were going to come from in tonight’s fixture against Perth, an opposition who’ve demonstrated their willingness to sit back and park the bus against us in previous encounters.
Fortunately for the fans, tonight was the night that our front line, including our attacking midfielders, got their act together and began finishing chances with clinical precision.
Chance creation was off the charts in the first half, with our attackers daring to take the game on with incisive passing in the final third and complementing off-the-ball runs which opened up pockets of space for overlapping teammates to run into.
Whilst Rostyn Griffith’s opener was more of an opportunistic finish that got us off to a positive start, the build-up play for Florin Berenguer’s follow-up and Markel Susaeta’s decisive third goal was much more impressive and exposed a new avenue for chance-creation which we hadn’t seen a whole lot of this season; attacking interplay from the fullbacks.
Scott Jamieson finished the game with two assists – channeling his inner Steph Catley, we reckon – turning in one of his best performances of the season in the meantime.
Whilst we can’t wait for Jamie to get back into goalscoring form soon, it’s a relief to know that we’re capable of scoring multiple goals past a typically airtight defence like that of the Glory.
The significance of that win
City fans were made well aware of the stats leading into this game, with Fox Sports making sure they informed us as often as possible that Perth had won nine of the last 11 fixtures against us at HBF Park.
To add to that, City hadn’t won consecutive games this season since Rounds 4 and 5 against Wellington and Central Coast respectively, with the latter of those wins occurring on the 8th of November, 2019.
To further emphasise our seemingly dire situation, we hadn’t won a game against any of the current top five teams since Wellington in Round 4. We’ve now beaten two in two weeks.
Now three points clear of Wellington and six clear of Perth, both of whom have a game in-hand, the City boys have turned their season around and have arguably staked their best claim on ACL qualification since our promising early-season form which saw us sitting pretty in first.
Weathering the storm
The fragile mentality of past Melbourne City teams has been VERY well publicised.
With Glory banging down the doors all second half, it seemed that City were set to suffer another infuriating mid-game collapse which would’ve seen our season thrown into doubt yet again, having only just recovered it the week earlier against Brisbane.
We were so ready to drop the points, it seemed, but the boys dug in, fighting off injuries, Perth’s unstoppable momentum and Andy Harper’s ridiculously biased commentary to hold on for the most significant victory of the season.
We’ve still got a long way to go before we properly turn the corner and are able to say that we no longer suffer from that fragile mentality which has plagued the club since its inception, but holding on for thirty minutes like we did was certainly our own way of laying down a marker to claim that this is a new team, a new culture, a new Melbourne City.