'Lid's just ajar': Three things we learned - Macarthur vs City
In what can only be described as an utterly frustrating encounter, Melbourne City were held to a 1-1 draw on Sunday evening against the Macarthur Bulls.
City huffed and puffed, but ultimately left the house standing, and again will be left wondering how they were unable to capitalise on their dominance.
Without further ado, here are three lessons learned from the encounter.
Once again, a quick look at the stats sheet post-match will leave fans scratching their head wondering how on earth we didn't win that match.
77% possession, 24 shots at goal, what more needs to be done?
This isn't the first time this has happened either this season, and what was perhaps initially described as just some bad luck or 'one of those days where it doesn't go in' has now occurred often enough to grow into some legitimate concern. Off the top of my head, I think of the fixtures against the likes of WSW, Adelaide (twice) Victory and now the Bulls where our inability to capitalise on attacking dominance has resulted in the loss of points.
Last night in particular, how many times do we need to walk it into the six-yard box before someone buries it. How many chances go begging because we hesitate a half-second too long and are dispossessed or blocked?
I don't often like pointing fingers but I think last night Marco Tilio had two glaring opportunities to put the game to bed, one where he missed his touch completely and squandered a one-on-one chance, and later on, a stray pass that if played correctly would've given J-Mac a tap-in in the last minute to send us home as winners.
I highlight him particularly because his performances of late have encompassed what has ultimately led to results such as last night, and that is that since Rado has taken over we have been occasionally great without ever being consistently good.
More on that next.
Lid's just ajar
I'll hold my hands up and admit I was a 'lid's off' advocate around a month ago, but now I'm placing it back on ever so tentatively.
I'll preface this with saying that I still think this group is so capable of winning the Plate, they should win the Plate and anything less than winning the Plate simply isn't good enough considering the gaps we've had at the top this year.
However, I have seen enough now to comfortably say it's not a sure thing.
It just feels that ever since PK has gone a sense of complacency has drifted into the squad that we really didn't see during his tenure. That isn't a dig at Rado, I still think he has plenty to offer, but a spade is a spade and complacency is simply something PK didn't let slide.
The fact is a month ago we looked at the fixtures we had ahead of us and saw a chance to lock the Plate up. Instead, we've won 2/5 of those games and conceded 11 goals.
On those 11 goals, last night's addition was more of the same. It just feels cheap, getting burned on the counter is a mistake we are continuing to make, and one we are seemingly yet to learn from.
Adelaide now sit just four points behind us, and our game in-hand against Victory (who we've lost to) feels a lot less like a comfy cushion to have in our back pocket and instead feels like a massive potential banana skin.
Ultimately the standard you walk by is the standard you accept. I think our standards have dropped enough over the last month for a couple of tough conversations to take place.
This squad has the capability to meet those expectations, so there's no need for this lull to continue any longer than it has done now.
I want to end what has been a rather sombre wrap-up on a positive note, and for that, we can look no further than Callum Talbot.
Whilst Talbot has come under a bit of criticism recently, enough, in fact, to lose his place in the starting XI at times, last night he was able to show the quality he has in his arsenal, and ultimately why City would have recruited him in the first place. Talbot was the genesis of everything we did down the right-hand side, he looked to get things on the front foot at every possible moment and the numbers back that:
72 passes at 92% accuracy.
3 chances created.
5/7 dribbles completed.
6 passes into the final third.
Whilst there wasn't an awful lot to do defensively (not surprising when you have 80% possession), he still looked solid enough.
However, last night's performance spoke more towards the concerns that had been directed at the creative aspect of his game, as he showed he clearly has the potential to fit into the
'City ball' philosophy.
If his performances keep up to the standard he set last night, I can't why he couldn't be one of the first names on the team sheet every week.
Whilst a sombre night, a point is always better than a loss.
As well as that, the international break comes at a fortunate time for City, as it perhaps lends itself to an opportunity for a few things to be worked on and a few injuries and sore bodies to be rested and recovered.
When the season returns it will be all guns blazing towards that Plate, as the games become fewer and punishment for slipping up becomes greater.
Performing well and having numbers to back it up means nothing if you're not winning, the time off will be well-spent patching up the holes to ensure when the season returns, those results start falling in our favour.