Melbourne City are through to the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup, with a first-half goal from Matthew Leckie being enough to see off a valiant Hume City, whilst opening his account for the club in the process.
Despite the victory, it was far from smooth sailing as the NPL outfit created a number of chances throughout the game, perhaps even unlucky not to find the back of the net during the second half.
Football, however, is not decided on ifs and buts, and it was the young Melbourne City outfit who came out on top. City will now be looking ahead to the quarter-finals, where the trophy is now well and truly in our sites.
As the dust settles on another night of midweek action, here are three things we learned in last nights match:
Pucciarelli pulling the strings
Last night Manuel Pucciarelli made his long-awaited debut for the club, with the Italian putting in a performance that is sure to leave many a supporter hungry for more.
Despite it being his first outing in City colours, Pucciarelli looked comfortable from the off, linking especially well with both sides of the wing, earning himself an assist in the process, as he put the ball on a platter for Leckie’s first half strike.
There has been some wonder into where exactly the Italian will fit into this side, and it seems he will be taking up a very similar role to former City star Adrian Luna. Pucciarelli spent the majority of his 60 minutes on the pitch sitting just behind the #9, dictating almost all of City’s play in the final third of the pitch, whilst also not being afraid to get himself into threatening goalscoring positions when the opportunity presented itself.
Questions being asked of his fitness will have also been put to bed, as the international kept Hume defenders on their toes with his intense pressing for the entirety of his time on the pitch.
It may still only be early days for our new import, but if he finds an ability to click with Socceroo front three, City fans should have plenty to be excited about.
Defence doesn’t look comfortable, yet
The City defence have looked shaky in the second halves of this season, and last night was no different. Granted, Patrick Kisnorbo fielded a lineup packed with youngsters, but the defence was in no means devoid of quality. Good, Griffiths and Glover started last night, all three of which have been mainstays in the defence of City’s modern-day championship era.
City were punished on the weekend as an attempt to play out the back in the final moments of the game saw us concede. City were lucky to not pay the price again, as a similar attempt to pass out from the back offered Hume a glaring opportunity to score which was ultimately squandered.
Shades of the opening round set-piece hesitancy were also on show, as Hume were allowed an open header from a corner in the 88th minute, which was just sent wide.
City’s defence last year often seemed impenetrable, and there is no doubt they will be looking to regain that standard once again. Patrick Kisnorbo will be working tirelessly to ensure this is rectified sooner rather than later, with Season 2021-22 looking to be as competitive as any in recent memory, and giving easy chances to the opposition is not something the defending champions can afford to do.
Eyes on the prize
Despite some concern at the back, Melbourne City were able to grind out the result and put our name in the hat for the quarter-finals of the cup. This, of course, means only two wins stand in our way of booking ourselves a place in the showcase fixture of the tournament.
The new Melbourne City is fixated on dominance, and that means winning every trophy on offer. Winning the first trophy available for the year would also send a statement to the rest of the league, being that we aren’t looking to rest on our laurels.
A squad with as much depth as City’s also puts us in the best possible position to push hard for the trophy, which is something every member of the squad will be aware of as they battle it out to cement a place in the starting XI. With the trophy well and truly in touching distance, the motto of Melbourne City rings true for cup football: Anytime, anywhere, anyone. There’s really no mistake about it, City are out to win it.
Progression to the next round sees City continue their undefeated streak from the start of the season.
Some fantastic positives were on offer with the debut of Manuel Pucciarelli, and great opportunities for younger members of our squad, whilst also shining the light on plenty of room for improvement and growth.
City are still yet to hit the heights we know they are capable of, yet the sign of great side is grinding out results when not playing at their best, and City are managing that. All eyes now turn to the weekend as City will look to continue their unbeaten run against Western United.