The City boys have pulled off another unlikely victory to send themselves back to the A-League Men’s summit, defeating Sydney FC 2-1 away from home last night.
A break-neck counter-attack that culminated in a Paulo Retre own-goal saw City open the scoring, but Milos Ninkovic pegged one back just after half-time, setting the stage for Mathew Leckie to make himself the hero with his stoppage-time winner.
Now on a three-game winning streak, the City boys are in a promising position just over halfway through their league campaign.
Here’s what we learned from the vital win:
So, how DO you fit five into four?
It was mentioned in the preview to last night’s game, but we’re no closer to finding a solution to Patrick Kisnorbo’s impossible selection dilemma up front – if anything, we’re even further away (technically this is a non-lesson, I suppose).
Marco Tilio’s rise and rise feels like it shouldn’t be denied any longer, yet it was one of the leading candidates to make way for the youngster, Mathew Leckie, who would prove the match-winner for City, even with the 19-year-old livewire on the field.
The process of elimination (Leckie? Maclaren? Berenguer?) likely leaves Andrew Nabbout as the next in the firing line, but even that feels unfair.
Is Tilio in our best XI? At whose expense? Does Kisnorbo need to change the system to accommodate him? Or is constant rotation of the front four the best way to go?
Plenty of questions, but they’re great ones to have.
They say that the measure of a champion team is its ability to win even when they’re not playing at their best, and City’s past two victories in the A-League Men have been FAR from pretty.
The boys followed up Tuesday night’s highway robbery against the Mariners with a sub-par performance against a Sydney FC outfit that simply couldn’t make the most of its chances, and the difference between where we are now (top of the table and on our longest winning run of the season) and where we could have been (potentially two straight losses and fans up in arms all over again) is significant.
That said, part of our good fortune also has to be attributed to our squad depth, as we’ve managed to secure those vital six points without several starting XI regulars.
With our next game against the struggling Perth Glory and the prospect of Scott Jamieson and Aiden O’Neill to return to the lineup, the City boys may now be poised to shift into the next gear and string together a run of comprehensive victories that could go a long way to deciding the title.
It’s at the bottom because it’s just a footnote in comparison to the massive result for our campaign, but the question needs to be asked: What was going through Tom Glover’s head tonight?
The fact that the City keeper rushed out with such unwavering determination on three separate occasions potentially indicates that he’s been instructed to take/ has devised a new approach to dealing with balls played over the top of his defence, but the strategy doesn’t seem a popular one with fans online.
Though Glover was actually quite solid aside from those moments, making a big save to deny Ninkovic in the play that immediately preceded our opener, the reality is that, despite improved recent performances, the young keeper is still on relatively thin ice with fans this season and can’t really afford to open himself up to many more blunders.
You have to feel for Tommy – right now he’s in the unenviable position where anything less than short-term perfection or a long-term return to form won’t be enough to restore fans’ trust, and that must weigh heavily on him.