'VARking Close Call: 3 things we learned - City vs Western United
We yet again find ourselves putting in an incredible performance the week after a disappointing loss, defeating Western United (Homebrand FC, if you will) in a 3-2 thriller last night.
City started fast with Jamie Maclaren bungling the ball into the net after a goalmouth scramble in the fifth minute, before Craig Noone and Adrián Luna combined for one of the most beautiful goals of the season to put us 2-0 up in the 36th.
Just as half-time approached, JMac made it 3-0 following a Filip Kurto goalkeeping blunder which allowed our number-nine to pass the ball into the back of the empty net.
Things were going well until a trademark Dean Bouzanis brain-fade in the 75th minute, with the maligned keeper clumsily (and frankly, just plain mindlessly) bringing down the
oncoming United attacker inside the box, with none other than Besart Berisha stepping up to slam home the penalty.
Just four minutes later, Alessandro Diamanti similarly converted his own spot-kick following an unbelievably-déjà vu red card for Harrison Delbridge following a handball as he slid in to tackle inside the box.
Regardless, the City boys held on to win 3-2, warding off the demons of recent weeks to earn us an important three points against a fellow second-place aspirant.
Here’s what we learned:
Noone’s finally showing glimpses of his FFA Cup form
His game’s still got a fair way to improve, but Craig Noone’s first half was reminiscent of the blistering performances he put in throughout the early stages of the FFA Cup, from which he’d gained such league-wide plaudits.
Noone is the king of ‘looking good’ when he plays; his dribbling in particular is often breathtaking and the shots that he takes are usually respectable curlers which narrowly miss the outside of the far post – the type of effort you’d still applaud.
And whilst last night was another case of narrowly missing curlers (we’re gonna go f****** bonkers if he ever scores one), the chances he was creating for his teammates were of a high-quality and his chipped-assist for Luna’s volleyed finish was an absolute peach.
For the first time in a while, Noone looked like his performance significantly contributed to an improvement of those of his teammates around him (through secondary shot assists, in particular) and we hope to see his continued upward trajectory over the coming weeks.
We’re in safe hands with Windbichler
The likelihood of Harrison Delbridge getting sent off at the same stage of the match against the same opponent and in the exact same manner is pretty incredible, but we reckon we’re in safe hands with Richard Windbichler at centre-back next weekend.
The Austrian wore Berisha like a glove last night and demonstrated his surprising pace, positional awareness and defensive experience in his action-packed first-half cameo.
Alongside Good, the pair only conceded one genuinely threatening chance – which the former-Heart man was able to thankfully clear off the line – and are decent odds for a clean sheet against ninth-placed Brisbane next week.
Dominated the game but we’re sick of the inconsistency
Last night’s game was a training session for the majority of the first hour and a bit. United’s revamped back four looked a shambles for all three goals and City were keeping them out with relative ease at the other end.
That first half invariably ranks as one of our top two or three of the season and seriously makes us wonder how we’ve suffered the embarrassing defeats that we have.
Whilst we’ve essentially seen off the challenge of Western United for second place for at least the next month or two, Perth Glory is the next big rival in our bid for Asian Champions League qualification, and we’re all well aware of what happened last time we played them.
We play the Glory in Round 16 (three weeks time), but face Brisbane away and Newcastle at home before then and honestly, dropping points against either of those teams would completely throw last night’s important win out the window.
It’s time to find some consistency in our performances and prove that we’re capable of repeatedly putting together performances like last night’s – and against quality opposition, we hope.