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Three things we learned: Melbourne City vs Wellington Phoenix

We’ve gone top of the league after downing Wellington Phoenix 3-2 in our Sunday afternoon clash at AAMI Park yesterday.

City went down early on after conceding a disappointing goal from a corner which was finished by former-Celtic star Gary Hooper, before replying in the 30th minute with a first A-League goal for Connor Metcalfe following a lethal cross from Craig Noone.

Just minutes later, fullback Scott Galloway scored another absolute belter from outside the box, narrowly tucking his rocketing shot just inside the frame of the goal to beat Wellington’s keeper and put us 2-1 up.

In the second half, a controversial penalty was awarded to us for a handball against Louis Fenton and Craig Noone stepped up to dispatch the spot-kick and put us two goals to the good.

Disappointingly, Wellington’s Ben Waine scored a tap-in just before the full-time whistle which put a dampener on the occasion slightly.

Now unbeaten in four games, here’s what we learned from last night’s win:

Brillante can do it all

Having sung his praises last weekend against Western United, Josh Brillante’s only gone and put in a man-of-the-match performance (according to the late-game stadium announcement) from CENTRE-BACK.

Whilst the formation that the club put out on social media indicated a 4-3-3 with Rostyn Griffiths in defence and Brillante in midfield, what actually seemed to be the case was a 3-4-3 with Brillante, Good and Jamieson making up the back three.

We’re hardly going to say that Brillante’s inclusion in the back three made it impenetrable (more on that later), but once again, it was certainly a surprise to see the 5’8” handle-bar-moustached midfielder in the heart of defence as opposed to the tough-tackling 6’1” Rostyn Griffiths, so it’s good to know that we have plenty of variety in our depth options.

Colakovski goes alright

19-year-old Stefan Colakovski made his debut for City last night when he was subbed on in the 78th minute for Connor Metcalfe and in the 15 or so minutes that he was on the pitch, he looked like our most dangerous player.

His highlights included an on-target shot which was blocked inside the box, a header which narrowly floated over the bar and a scintillating run towards goal which only came to an end after his on-target shot was well-saved by Wellington’s Marinovic.

The young striker’s progression towards getting first-team minutes under his belt has been accelerated by the injury to Jamie Maclaren and after performances like that, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him come off the bench in late-game situations more often.

A better team might have punished us

After another important win which has put us top of the league after four rounds, it’s tough to also have to put a negative spin on it and say that we were probably fortunate to have come away with all three points in a game where, whilst our opposition weren’t outstanding, a better team might have made us pay for our mistakes.

There were several errant passes from defence which never found our midfielders, instead intercepted by a Phoenix player who’d instantly have us on the back foot. Throw in a few VERY poor tackles and it wouldn’t have been too far out of the question for City to again find themselves with just 10 players on the pitch in yesterday afternoon’s encounter.

The Phoenix didn’t go forward very often, but when they did, it tended to lead to dangerous opportunities, with two of their three shots on-target ending up in the back of the net.

We hate to keep bringing it up as well, but for all that Rostyn Griffiths has positively changed our midfield, he really does feel like a red card waiting to happen, consistently getting booked early on and having to walk a very fine line throughout the rest of the match.

However, we’ll finish off on a positive note. Goals came without an issue despite Maclaren’s absence, Craig Noone’s finally off the mark and we’re undefeated after four rounds. Life’s pretty good right now.

Final score: City 3 - 2 Wellington

⚽️ 30' Metcalfe

⚽️ 34’ Galloway

⚽️ 63' Noone (P)

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