Whilst Brisbane’s lowly position on the table suggests we should be outraged by our 2-2 draw, it’s hard to feel anything more than perhaps disappointment given the quantity and quality of players we had missing from the squad this evening.
Brad Inman played well for the Roar, exhibiting excellent close control and composure to beat Nathaniel Atkinson and Josh Brillante respectively for his two first-half goals.
Between the first and the second however, Craig Noone broke his eight-game goalless streak to FINALLY score from open play in the league, capitalising on a selfless assist by Jamie Maclaren who elected to head Scott Jamieson’s cross back into the path of Noone rather than going for goal himself.
Nathaniel Atkinson returned the scoreline to 2-2 just after half-time with an absolute rocket from outside the box for his first league goal for Melbourne City.
Forced to take just the one point away from a game for the first time since the opening round’s 0-0 Derby, here’s what we learned from this evening’s match:
Luna proves his defensive value
In the City system, offence starts at the back and defence from the front, and Adrián Luna proved his worth tonight with several crucial interventions to break up Brisbane’s attacking transitions.
The Uruguayan displayed an admirable determination to track back with Roar’s advancing midfielders and often found himself able to put an unexpected tackle in when the opposing player was preoccupied facing up against either Brillante at CDM or one of the back four.
With Genreau in Thailand with the Olyroos and Berenguer suffering a hamstring injury late in the match, we’ll be happy to see more of Luna over the coming weeks.
Atkinson deserves further opportunities – and we’ll squeeze him in if we have to
Nathaniel Atkinson’s unfortunate, season-ending ankle injury in 2017/18 derailed his development under Warren Joyce and the 20-year-old hasn’t been able to break back into the starting lineup until the past few weeks, putting in some respectable shifts and capping his recent good form off with an absolute belter of a goal in tonight’s 2-2 draw.
The dilemma has always been that Atkinson would have to usurp either Jamieson or Galloway in order to cement himself in the starting XI, and fans might have felt as though the latter was unlucky that his senior counterpart at left-back happens to be the captain (thus essentially undroppable).
Whilst Galloway’s late-game injury means Atkinson has the fullback spot locked up for the next few weeks, we wouldn’t be opposed to seeing the youngster tested out on the wing, given his familiarity with the role from his youth and his proven dribbling, passing and shooting capabilities.
Lachie Wales has been serviceable in his recent starts out on the wing, but it can’t hurt to have another attacking option by giving Atkinson a run out there for a few weeks later in the season.
Our depth is an advantage that might help us in the battle for second spot
It might be indicative of a small-team mindset, but with the amount of players we’ve got missing one could hardly have been blamed for being happy with a point from this game.
Connor Metcalfe, Denis Genreau, Tom Glover, Ramy Najjarine, Richard Windbichler, Harrison Delbridge, Javier Cabrera; that’s at least 5-6 starters depending on individual form/ our adjustment to any particular opposition.
Nonetheless, the lineup we ended up fielding was still one that was probably capable of beating Brisbane comfortably on another day.
The beauty of our midfield in particular is that we’ve got so many first-team-quality players in contention for spots that we can afford to adjust our tactics/composition depending on the opposition, which also means that we’ve got the depth to still field a first-team-quality midfield when we’re missing as many players as we are.
Defensively, we can rely on Rostyn Griffiths to put in an adequate performance as a makeshift centre-back, whilst Jamieson, Atkinson and Galloway are all worthy of being named in the starting XI, though three doesn’t go into two.
Up front, Lachie Wales is an A-League quality player capable of unsettling defenders with his pace and, when he needs to come off, we can turn to a bench brimming with exciting young talent, including Stefan Colakovski and Idrus Abdulahi, who both made an appearance last night.
This depth is certainly a strength of ours which puts us a long way towards winning the battle with Perth, Western United, Adelaide and Wellington for second place.