With similarly embarrassing losses against Adelaide and Brisbane already this season, we have indeed been here before, with last night’s 0-3 home loss against Perth putting our title challenge back into perspective.
It could only be Bruno Fornaroli who’d give the visitors the lead in the first half, miraculously – and quite questionably – winning a header against the significantly taller Harrison Delbridge to put the ball past Dean Bouzanis in goal.
Delbridge’s night only got worse when he put the ball in the back of his own net from Juande’s off-target outside-the-box effort, putting the Glory 2-0 up just two minutes into the second half, before Tomislav Mrcela beat the City defender in an aerial duel from a Perth corner routine to make it 3-0 in the 71st minute.
Here’s what we learned from last night’s disappointment:
We’re the team that underperforming teams play to get back into form
Adelaide lost both of their A-League games that preceded the FFA Cup Final in which they completely humiliated us with a 4-0 thrashing.
Brisbane had scored one goal in six games until they put four past us in one half in Round Seven.
Perth, of course, were sitting at the bottom of the table with the equal-least goals scored in the league until last night.
We do have to emphasise that Perth are a sleeping giant that were eventually going to get on a roll and that their position on the table massively understated their potential, but it’s the most typical City thing to do against a team we’re expected to beat; put in a performance that fans and players should be ashamed of.
Our service into the box is deplorable
We’ve typically maintained a fairly positive view throughout these post-match articles, the Cup Final aside, but ‘deplorable’ is genuinely the most accurate word to describe the quality of the balls into the box last night.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that floating a sluggish, wind-affected ball onto 5’9” Jamie Maclaren’s head when he’s being double-teamed by two 6’4” defenders isn’t going to work.
What’s even worse is that we couldn’t even achieve that unfavourable outcome most of the time, with countless crosses ending up well over everyone’s heads and through passes being so overhit that they end up out of play for a goal kick.
The worst thing about the poor service is that, right now, if JMac doesn’t look like he’s going to score, no-one else looks like they’re going to either.
The clean sheets issue is no longer just a case of bad luck
As the season progresses, the outliers that we’d optimistically labelled as being just that are turning out to be an unsettling trend.
The same analogy’s been used to describe Dean Bouzanis and his gallery of goalkeeping blunders – there are two more big ones to add to it after last night – but now we’re using it to talk about the back four.
Whilst Erick’s inverted fullbacks strategy is beneficial for our attacking buildup, it’s now being exposed semi-frequently and particularly places the defensive recovery capabilities of Scott Jamieson under the microscope.
Looking across to the central defensive partnership, which had looked so promising early on, and questions are starting to be raised, especially with Richard Windbichler back from injury and more than ready to come into the starting lineup to replace either Harrison Delbridge or Curtis Good, who’ve now both had at least one defensive shocker each.
What needs to happen now is for the players to regroup, analyse the mistakes of last night and simply put the game behind them… and so should the fans.
Regardless of other results, we’re going to finish the round in 2nd place with only Sydney FC – the perennial A-League benchmark – in front of us, and deservedly so.
There’s a long season ahead and we’re more than up to the task of pushing Sydney to the very end.