'The Hard Way': Three things we learned - Wellington vs City
The City boys delivered one of their trademark ‘give every single supporter heart palpitations’ performances when they escaped with a 2-3 away win over Wellington Phoenix last night.
The boys started well, with Curtis Good netting from a corner in the 17th minute, but couldn’t find subsequent goals that would have put the game out of reach early.
As a result, the rest of the encounter was a seesawing affair that saw goals to Hemed, Maclaren and Davila before Marco Tilio came on to score the winner in the 83rd minute.
Here’s what we learned from the win:
‘Should have been 6-0’
Whilst a lack of clean sheets in the past three weeks is a minor concern for City’s defensive line, it’s our inability to kill games early that is the greater liability.
For a second week straight, City have broken through the opposition’s defences within the opening 20 minutes, and for a second week straight, City have once again failed to capitalise on our countless follow-up chances to make it 2 or 3-0 by half-time.
Between Nabbout’s point-blank miss, Berenguer’s saved close-range effort that he should’ve done better with, Noone’s squandering of a two-on-one opportunity or Maclaren’s wasting of a one-on-one, we really could have seen another 6-0, but the pleasing aspect from a City perspective is that we’re saying that every week, speaking to the unprecedented quality of this current squad.
Connor coming into his own
With the defence conceding twice and the front three squandering chances left, right and centre, there had to be someone in midfield to step up and take hold of the game, and that player was Connor Metcalfe.
At 21-years-old, Metcalfe has irrefutably established himself as a full-blooded member of the City midfield and has deserved his achievement of starting in every game this season.
Metcalfe’s propensity to float across the midfield, receiving the ball in the half-spaces or dangerous advanced positions, has made him a dynamic operator who contributes heavily to City’s ability to unlock opposition defences.
With three goals and two assists to his name this season, Metcalfe is in the midst of a true breakout season that will leave no doubts about his value to the team going forward.
Cola and Tilio impactful off the bench – Tsubaki last in line?
In a bold 80th-minute substitution decision, Patrick Kisnorbo elected to remove his potent senior wingers Andrew Nabbout and Craig Noone from the field, to be replaced by youngsters Stefan Colakovski and Marco Tilio.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but the young wingers took the game by storm, reinvigorating City’s attacking moves with their late-game pace and touch.
Colakovski in particular (with no disrespect to Tilio, it’s just that Cola’s had more minutes) is starting to look like a genuine A-League quality winger who we’d love to see a full 90 minutes of, given his relentless pace and determination to win the ball. His final product is still unpolished, but he’s exciting to watch and – sorry Rene – he tends to threaten the goal more than Lachie Wales did in his time at the club.
The flipside of this is that Naoki Tsubaki appears to have fallen right to the back of the pack in regards to getting minutes off the bench, a concerning trend that we’ll discuss more of when we publish a mid-season loan report within the next week or two.