'Your Premiers have arrived': Three things we learned - City vs Wellington
Melbourne City took another important leap towards the Premier's Plate today with a dominant performance against Wellington Phoenix at AAMI Park.
Jamie Maclaren broke his five-game scoring drought with a double, scoring either side of a deflected Steven Ugarkovic equaliser. From there, the floodgates burst open thanks to Marco Tilio's own return to scoring form, netting a brilliant curler just a handful of minutes before a contest-neutralising red card for Joshua Laws. City's diminutive winger brought the result home with a second goal in the 83rd minute, tapping home from Jordan Bos' fizzing low cross.
Following a much-needed return to sublime attacking form, here's what we learned in our penultimate home game of the season:
Your Premiers have arrived
The City boys are on the cusp of a third-consecutive Premiership, and today they reminded us why.
Jamie Maclaren returned to his goalscoring best. Marco Tilio showed that his star is still shining bright. Andrew Nabbout, who deserves his own section (and will get one), was destructive. For the first time in far too long, all of City's attacking stars aligned, and the resulting team-wide confidence was clear for all to see.
The team now sits seven points clear of Adelaide United with three games to play. At this point, the official title of 'Premiers' is within touching distance; City needs merely one win or two draws or Adelaide to draw/lose just one more game.
It may not yet be confirmed, but from the perspective of City fans, today our Premiers arrived.
Andy Nabbout still has it in him
Maybe it's been inflated by an underwhelming past few months by comparison, but today felt like one of Andrew Nabbout's best performances for City.
The winger provided three assists in a best-on-ground performance, beating out several other City stars who also put their best foot forward for that accolade. The 30-year-old also had a big chance to get on the scoresheet for himself, but unfortunately passed up that opportunity to really put the icing on the cake.
The hallmarks of Nabbout's standout display were really just the things that he has always done so well, but to no avail in recent times. Today, his slick one-touch interplaying passes not only came off, but also contributed directly to shooting opportunities. The wet conditions were conducive to the winger's ability to leap powerfully and win flick-on headers for onrushing attackers. Even his trademark 'knock on and slam a cross in from the byline' penalty box manoeuvre paid off, coming to fruition for Maclaren's second.
Perhaps today was an amalgamation of perfect circumstances for Nabbout, or perhaps he's rediscovered his best form just at the time we needed it.
Riverside have arrived… but the politics are ugly
City Terrace is no more. Yarra End Collective are in Bay 17. Riverside 32 are in Bay 12.
And after today, there’s no going back.
For the first time this season, the club’s breakaway terrace made itself heard, committing to a full 90 minutes of chanting. For a small group without a megaphone or drum, RS32 deserves credit for the noise it was able to make.
With that said, not all the noise was equally needed.
On what should have been a universally enjoyed night for all City fans, some — myself included — may have found themselves distracted by the obvious terrace politics and uncomfortable rift between the two active groups. What made things more uncomfortable was that the hostilities were notably one-way, emanating outward from the newly established corner.
Frankly, the antagonistic chanting of “Is this a library?” and “We’re louder than you”, amongst a plethora of other jabs, felt totally counterproductive to building the club’s active support culture. Not only is that type of mentality likely to turn away some undecided fans who may otherwise have been attracted by the noise, it is ultimately the case that the best outcome - if the terraces refuse to work together as they previously had done - would be for City to have two terraces with equally strong identities and support.
Rather than our terraces eating one another, it seems best for all if the groups occupied opposite ends of the ground and freely brought their own brand of support to City home games.