Preview: Time for a late-season streak
Fresh off a confidence-boosting win against fellow top-two chasers Perth Glory, our boys will be looking to extend their winning streak to three games when they return to AAMI Park for a clash with finals-hopefuls Western Sydney Wanderers.
Our team produced a performance to be proud of last time out, particularly lead by the fantastic individual performances of Rostyn Griffiths, Tom Glover, and captain Scott Jamieson.
The first half was as good a brand football as we’ve played all season, and in the process, we managed to secure back to back league wins for the first time since Rounds Four and Five of the season.
We were extremely clinical going forward and our three first-half goals reflected that. The second half was a whole different story, with the concession of Perth’s first goal causing us to sink too deep and invite far too much pressure. Thankfully the boys dug in after the second goal and refused to crumble completely under the pressure.
Erick Mombaerts was full of praise for the team, and rightly so, especially in the hot conditions of Western Australia. Given that we’re unable to train in such warm temperatures in Melbourne, our performance should certainly be commended considering that.
Past City/Heart teams have at times found it hard to close out games when they’ve had sizeable leads and fans surely thought we were bound to collapse again when Bruno Fornaroli scored Perth’s second goal. You could see the classic anti-city headlines already being written.
The boys dug deep though and got the vital win that has seen us steer six points clear of Perth on the ladder, giving us a decent grip on second place.
Looking ahead, the Western Sydney Wanderers stand in our way of a third successive win that would put us well on the way to holding on to second.
Last time we met them, we left Bankwest Stadium with all three points following a memorable and resilient showing, which - and not for the first time this season - highlighted our team’s new-found ability to bounce back after a disappointing result the week before.
Western Sydney is fresh off a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Brisbane Roar, which could cost them dearly in their pursuit of a top-six birth as we edge closer to the end of the home and away season.
Their danger man is undoubtedly their captain Mitch Duke, who has netted eleven goals in nineteen games in all competitions this season. Our back four will have to bring their A-game to nullify his potential influence on the contest.
Both teams go into this game in similar form if you look at the last ten games that they’ve both played, with City only one win better off than the Wanderers. Before their loss to Brisbane, Western Sydney hadn’t tasted an A-League defeat since round fifteen, so, our boys can ill-afford to take them lightly.
We’ll have to win this game without two key players, as in-form midfielders Rostyn Griffiths and Adrian Luna will both serve mandatory one-match suspensions for yellow card accumulation. Florin Berenguer also comes into the game under an injury cloud after sustaining a hamstring injury against Perth.
Griffiths has been deputizing as a makeshift centre-back of late, so we'd assume that his logical replacement would be Harrison Delbridge, though he’s got big shoes to fill following the recent impressive form of Griffiths.
As for whoever replaces Adrian Luna, that’s arguably a bigger void to fill. As the season has progressed, the Uruguayan midfielder’s ability to press his opponents has been ever-present and he's begun to set a vital example for the rest of the team.
There’s no reason why we can’t continue our winning streak, despite our absentees. We’re on home turf and know that getting the three points is a must to strengthen our grip on second place.
Final Score Prediction: Melbourne City 2-0 Western Sydney Wanderers