Melbourne City has secured its second win in five days, defeating Wellington Phoenix 4-1 at AAMI Park on Monday evening.
Braces from Jamie Maclaren and Marco Tilio led the way, while Andrew Nabbout also recorded three assists in what was a polished team performance.
The win now sees City just three points away from mathematically securing what would be a third consecutive Premiers Plate.
It was an unchanged starting XI for City’s second matchday of the week, while Nuno Reis made his return via the bench and captain Scott Jamieson was unavailable due to suspension.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 6. Thomas LAM, 22. Curtis GOOD, 38. Jordan BOS, 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 14. Valon BERISHA, 10. Florin BERENGUER, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 23. Marco TILIO, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 4. Nuno REIS, 18. Jordon HALL, 35. Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 36. Kerrin STOKES, 37. Max CAPUTO.
The first ten minutes of the contest flew by, with City looking to play an up-tempo style of football through the middle of the pitch.
Both sides exchanged chances at either end before the rain began to fall in the 15th minute, making conditions difficult for City as Wellington continued to drop numbers back and crowd the box.
Tom Glover came up with a handful of strong saves in the first half, including a diving stop to his right off an Oskar Zawada free kick in the 27th minute.
It was then Jamie Maclaren that broke the deadlock in the 34th, ending what could be considered a ‘dry spell’ given the high standards he holds himself to.
Our number 9 showed some neat footwork to weave his way through several Wellington defenders before burying it into the bottom left corner to give us the advantage.
Heading into the second half maintaining that 1-0 buffer, Marco Tilio found some open space and fired at goal just minutes later, only to be denied by a strong save from Wellington goalkeeper Oliver Sail.
Wellington would send it down the pitch from the ensuing City corner and a cruel deflection would see the ball sail into Tom Glover’s goal in the 49th minute.
City wouldn’t have to wait long to re-take the lead, Maclaren once again the man, finishing a neat Andrew Nabbout cutback just three minutes later.
After finding his way past the keeper not long after, Nabbout came close to extending City’s lead himself, denied only by a desperate goal-line clearance from Callan Elliot.
He was back in the thick of the action just moments later however, firing a pass across the box to Marco Tilio who settled himself before placing the ball into the bottom left corner to double City’s advantage just before the hour mark.
Glover came up with a clutch save once again, denying Kosta Barbarouses who got through 1-on-1 after a City mistake in midfield.
That would prove to be a pivotal moment in the match, with Joshua Laws shown a straight red for a stray boot in the 65th minute which virtually gave the visitors no chance of pulling off an unlikely comeback.
Marco Tilio grabbed his second goal of the evening in the 83rd minute, lashing home from close range to add an exclamation mark to City’s strong second half.
Much to the delight of the City faithful, Academy products Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Max Caputo both saw some extended minutes towards the end of the contest with the three points all but sealed.
We’re now within touching distance of what would be a history-making third consecutive Premiers Plate, three points away from mathematically securing our first silverware of the season.
Our first opportunity to secure those crucial points will come in Gosford against Central Coast this Saturday afternoon, with kick-off set for 5:00pm.