Melbourne City are on the hunt for a second-consecutive win on the road when the side travels to take on Sydney FC later today.
City recovered from its 2-1 loss to Western United by returning to winning ways against Wellington in an exhilarating 3-2 affair, with Marco Tilio’s winner following goals from Curtis Good and Jamie Maclaren earlier in the encounter.
Sydney FC’s most recent result was a controversial 1-0 victory over Perth Glory, an encounter that finished prematurely following lightning strikes that saw the game called off with four minutes still to play.
The major injury news heading into this one is the confirmation of a high-grade hamstring tear suffered by Nathaniel Atkinson, ruling out the young fullback for a significant portion of the season. Scott Jamieson continues to be sidelined by a calf strain, leaving Scott Galloway and Ben Garuccio as our starting fullbacks.
Here are the major talking points heading into tonight’s game:
Returning to the summit
The obvious reward on offer in tonight’s game is the opportunity to go top of the league, something that could have been achieved against Western United if not for a five-minute lapse in concentration that cost us the chance.
With the Mariners stuck on 30 points from their 16 games played, City could draw level on points and move top on goal difference with a game in hand on the Mariners, who don’t play in Matchweek 16.
Whilst City are clearly the form team of the competition, it won’t count for much if we continue to slip up when presented with a chance to establish our superiority in a concrete form, so the sooner we reach the summit, the better.
Making our dominance count
A frustrating theme of recent weeks has been our total domination of games without making it reflect in the scoreline.
The issue hasn’t even been making a fast start – we’ve scored the opening goal of the game within 20 minutes in our previous two fixtures. The issue is that we’re getting a multitude of subsequent chances to make it 2-0 and we’re not taking the opportunity to put the game out of our opposition’s reach.
We’ve already seen that a 3-0 lead mightn’t be enough for a comfortable win against Sydney FC, so we’ll have to be clinical with our chances and put the game to bed early.
The turning point in the Western United loss was Alessandro Diamanti’s introduction to the game in the 57th minute, with the Westies scoring twice within the ensuing nine minutes.
The Italian’s passing from his advanced midfield position changed the game for his side, utilising the width provided by United’s wingbacks, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen City falter following the introduction of a classy #10 midway through an encounter.
Last time out against Sydney FC it was Milos Ninkovic whose substitution in the 58th similarly flipped the encounter on its head, with the Serbian scoring in the 72nd and assisting in the 90th to draw Sydney back to 3-2 when the game had previously looked entirely out of their reach.
Whether an indicator of Patrick Kisnorbo’s tactical inflexibility or merely a case of two excellent players capitalising on a tiring defensive structure, this trend only serves as further reason to ensure that we’re clinical with our chances to finish the game off early.