Fresh off a disappointing defeat away to Adelaide United, our crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory await on Friday night in the final home and away Derby of the season.
Coach Erick Mombaerts highlighted our team’s poor first-half defensive display as the overlying reason as to why we left Adelaide without any points and having witnessed that shocking set-piece defending, it's hard to disagree with him.
To make matters worse, the club has recently confirmed the long-term MCL knee injury sustained by new signing Jack Hendry late in the match, who innocuously went to ground not long before the final whistle. There is no specific timeframe yet on Jack’s return to action, but the club is optimistic of a late-season return.
On top of the injury to Hendry, fellow central defender Harrison Delbridge picked up his third red card of the season for a reckless tackle on Adelaide’s Nikola Mileusnic. Delbridge will serve a two-match suspension for his actions which comes at a detriment to the team with two crucial upcoming games against Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix.
Taking into account the absence of Hendry and Delbridge this week, it leaves us with only one fit recognized central defender in Curtis Good, which means we’ll be turning to a makeshift center-back for this game. Josh Brillante and Rostyn Griffiths loom as the most likely candidates for this particular role, with both stepping in at times this season to fill that particular void.
Thankfully, there is some welcome good news from a team selection perspective with captain Scott Jamieson all but set to return to his post at left-back, whilst also providing some much-needed leadership on the field, a trait that was certainly lacking throughout our team in the loss to Adelaide.
Opponents Melbourne Victory will be high on confidence after they picked up an encouraging point away from home against Perth Glory, with that draw meaning that City crucially kept hold of second place for another week at least.
Our defensive performance needs to significantly improve in this Friday's Derby blockbuster if we're to expect a positive result; the horrid set-piece defending will cost us the result if we're not on our game.
I have my fingers crossed that Erick and the boys have worked on that in training, and by extension, will put it into practice against Melbourne Victory.
Final score prediction: Melbourne City 2-1 Melbourne Victory