Double-Header Review: Two Great Results
Melbourne City's A-League and W-League sides have started their respective seasons admirably in a double-header away to Brisbane, with our ladies picking up a brave point and our men's team going one better by claiming all three in the match that followed.
Starting with the W-League, while the whole team can take credit for the important point, special mention must go to goalkeeper Teagan Micah, who was our best player by a mile. The theme of this game was very much City's defensive solidity, though we were reliant on the woodwork and Teagan Micah to bail us out on multiple occasions. The latter was particularly crucial, with Micah doing a textbook job of channeling her inner Gandalf, adopting a "You Shall Not Pass!" attitude towards any Brisbane shot that came her way.
The City girls will hope to earn all three points in their next match away to Canberra on Sunday. To do so, an equally-solid defensive - and more clinical up-front - performance will be required.
Turning now to our men's team, who were able to give Patrick Kisnorbo his first win at A-League level as a full-time manager, doing so in such a way that would have made a no-nonsense centre-back like Kisnorbo very proud.
The visitors had their first chance as two minutes ticked over, with the opportunity falling to the energetic Adrian Luna who unfortunately put his half-volley closer to outer-space than the back of the net after being found well by the constantly-lethal Jamie Maclaren.
Fifteen minutes later and City were lucky not to be behind; Tom Glover was to thank following a fine save to thwart Brisbane striker Dylan Wenzel-Halls in a one-on-one situation. The fact that Wenzel-Halls had that much time and space initially was staggering.
Clear-cut chances were difficult to come by for the visitors until the half-hour mark. Jamie Maclaren did very well to pick out Connor Metcalfe with an incisive through-ball, though Metcalfe could only fire his effort into Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young when he arguably should have found the net.
Two minutes later and Maclaren himself had his first proper-sniff at goal. Much to his frustration though, his header didn't have Jamie Young worried at all as the attempt crawled behind for a goal-kick.
Off-season signing Andrew Nabbout had his first chance of the night six minutes later. The shot that followed his neat and skillful dribbling wasn't on the same level as the attempt and only found Jamie Young's chest.
Nabbout's sole first-half effort was the final scoring chance of the half, as the two teams went into the break locked level. Considering who had more looks at goal, City were perhaps fortunate to not be behind at half-time.
In the opening moments of the second half, Melbourne City couldn't have asked for a better way to boost their confidence. A neat one-two between Connor Metcalfe and Jamie Maclaren resulted in Metcalfe unleashing an unstoppable close-range strike bound for the top corner to give City the one-nil advantage.
Ten minutes after the Metcalfe goal, our defence nearly paid the price for some slack run-tracking as they allowed Roar winger Joey Champness some space in the box. Much to City's relief, Champness' effort trickled narrowly wide of the post.
Subpar defending nearly cost the visitors again on sixty-five minutes, as Roar centre-back Macaulay Gillesphey latched onto a pinpoint cross from the left flank. Tom Glover could only watch the header sail over his head. Thankfully for him and Melbourne City, Gillesphey's headed-attempt kissed the crossbar on route to a goal-kick.
City's task of hanging onto the three points got made all the more difficult three minutes later when Adrian Luna was sent for an early shower for a second bookable offence as he came in late with a high foot on Brisbane's Rahmat Akbari. Whilst the foot was late and a bit high, you could also argue that the contact was too minimal to warrant Akbari's subsequent reaction, which itself seemed to influence referee Adam Kersey's decision quite a lot.
Five minutes out from full time and a near-disaster struck for Melbourne City. For some bizarre reason, Tom Glover decided to go for a wander outside of his penalty area in what appeared to be an attempt to clear the danger, almost to his detriment too as the ball eventually found its way to Riku Danzaki of Brisbane, but he was unable to take advantage of Glover's strange antics.
Nearly midway through added time, Brisbane substitute Scott McDonald had a golden chance to give his team a goal that they arguably deserved, but the veteran striker was unable to hit the target with his effort as it went wide of the post.
That McDonald chance was the final threat to goal that City had to face, as they held on to claim all three points to start their season in the best possible way.
Our men's team will be hoping to build on this result when we travel to the City of Churches to face Adelaide United on Sunday.
To get the three points despite being a man down for a fair portion of the second half, and considering that we didn't create a plethora of clear-cut opportunities throughout the match, all coaches and players involved deserve a big pat on the back for their efforts in this game. Here's hoping that it's a sign of things to come...