Fresh after a week off, our boys face Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park who are high on confidence, and like us, will be vying for a top-two finish.
Before the bye, our boys put in an admirable yet frustrating performance against Wellington in Auckland. Head coach Erick Mombaerts identified Wellington’s pressing, playing into the wind in the first half and our inability to finish our chances as reasons why we walked away from this game empty-handed.
Straight after the game, captain Scott Jamieson lamented the one costly error that lead to Wellington’s goal as the most frustrating part of the game, also identifying the need for our team to be more consistent, and he hit the nail on the head both times in my opinion.
The simple reality is this, we tried very hard and that was to be commended, but we were not clinical enough when it came to finishing our chances. Some of that was down to some outstanding goalkeeping from Wellington’s Stefan Marinovic, but we also contributed to that ourselves. On top of that, one lapse in concentration from a throw-in ultimately lead to the worst punishment possible in conceding a goal.
Some fans may claim that contention is a bit of a harsh call and that “it was only one error”, but quite frankly that moment alone cost our team any sort of positive result. Going forward, if we’re to be in the hunt for second place then we can't afford to consistently produce errors like that, especially whilst also not being clinical enough to finish our chances in front of goal.
We now face the very real possibility of not only failing to get that Asian Champions League spot that we crave (and seemingly had a lock on in the first half of the season) but also of sliding further down the ladder if our form doesn't improve.
Having said all of that, this City team, unlike the past, has shown consistent resilience and the ability to bounce back after a defeat, with some examples including a hard-fought Round 3 success over Western United after the unacceptable Cup final loss to Adelaide and the thrilling win at Bankwest Stadium against the Wanderers in Round 7 after handing Brisbane their first win of the season on a silver platter five days earlier. I know this team can respond after a defeat and I back them to do it, but only time will tell.
As mentioned above, our opponents this week come into this game high on confidence, having only lost two of their last ten matches, winning five. Whilst the Roar are in better form than us, AAMI Park is not a very happy hunting ground for Brisbane against our club; you have to go back to Matchday 15 of our very first season in the A-League to find the last time Brisbane beat us in Melbourne, which could potentially be a psychological barrier for the visitors.
With no new major injury concerns or mandatory suspensions to speak of, we’ll go into this game with a pretty strong squad to pick from, aside from central defenders Richard Windbichler and Jack Hendry who are obviously still recovering from their respective long-term injuries.
From this weekend's clash and beyond, it's quite simple; nothing less than consecutive wins will be good enough if we want to keep in touch with - and overtake - Perth and deem this season a success. Valiant efforts that result in one or zero points don't count for too much right now.
Final Score Prediction: Melbourne City 2-0 Brisbane Roar