The City boys strolled to a comfortable 3-1 win over Newcastle Jets last night, with the team now enjoying a four-point lead at the top of the table.
City went ahead in the 32nd minute when Andrew Nabbout’s shot took a big deflection on its way into the back of the net, with Johnny Koutroumbis officially being credited with the own-goal.
It wasn’t until the 59th that City would find its second through an extremely unlikely source, with Scott Jamieson netting his first goal for the club in over 90 appearances in all competitions.
Unsurprisingly, Jamie Maclaren joined in on the scoring 10 minutes later when he poked the ball home from close-range following Nabbout’s cross from the right.
However, just as the clean sheet looked a certainty, a poor turnover from Florin Berenguer in midfield enabled a quick transition to be promptly finished off by Steven Ugarkovic in the 86th minute, with the final scoreline reading 3-1.
Following a fairly straightforward victory for the boys, here’s what we took out of it:
Junk time goals
One of the obvious blights on our performance last night was the concession of that 86th minute consolation goal, but as Patrick Kisnorbo identified in his post-match presser, it wasn’t exactly the first time we’ve seen Melbourne City switch off late on.
In fact, more of City’s 20 goals conceded have arrived between the 76th and 90th than in any other 15 minute period (30%).
Fortunately, conceding late-on has only seen us drop points on two occasions (1-1 Macarthur and 3-2 CCM), whilst four of the six goals conceded in this period occurred in the first seven games of the season.
Given the only other two times they’ve conceded ‘junk time’ goals have been in the past two weeks however, the team still has plenty of reason to iron these creases out of their performances heading into the business end of the season.
Naoki emerges from the wilderness
At the 79th minute mark in last night’s game, Naoki Tsubaki stepped onto the pitch for Melbourne City for the first time since the 26th of March, and played his most minutes since the 2nd of that month.
The Yokohama loanee took up his position on the right wing and showed some good touches and passing in the limited time that he had to impress, but was again overshadowed in his overall impact by the livelier Tilio on the left, whilst Colakovski also looked likely to score.
Kisnorbo has said throughout the season that he won’t be handing out appearances off the bench left, right and centre just because the substitute limit is higher in 2020/21, so his decision to afford minutes to the struggling Tsubaki seems to hold significance.
Has Tsubaki earned his minutes off the bench by working hard in training recently, and does that mean we’ll be seeing more of the young Japanese winger over the coming weeks?
Hard to know what to take out of that performance
Overall, last night’s 3-1 win is a difficult result to draw many insights from.
As many observed, City hardly got out of second gear, cruising to victory with the lion’s share of possession whilst bossing the shooting statistics also.
City’s dominance in regards to the balance of play was promising and seemed comparable to that from the six-game winning streak, where the boys had their opposition pinned on the back foot, peppering the Jets’ goal whilst barely giving the visitors a sniff up the other end.
Ultimately, however, the Jets are last for a reason. Whilst they were somewhat competitive throughout, City’s first two goals came cheaply through a fortunate deflection and some sub-par defending to prevent Jamieson from weaving through and scoring.
The bottom line is that City put in a largely professional performance that was good enough to beat the opposition on the night and deserving of the three points, which is all we can ask as we seek to build a buffer at the top.