Melbourne City recorded its first win of the 2023/24 A-League Men’s season on Friday night against Sydney FC at AAMI Park.
Goals virtually immediately either side of half time through Steven Ugarkovic and Jamie Maclaren did the damage as City bounced back from a tough first two rounds.
New Head Coach, Aurelio Vidmar, took charge for the first time and didn’t have too many surprises in his starting XI.
Tolgay Arslan and Curtis Good returned to the starting unit after not appearing in last week’s fixture following our heavy schedule. This saw both Terry Antonis and Samuel Souprayen move to the bench.
Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 4. Nuno REIS, 22. Curtis GOOD, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 44. Marin JAKOLIS, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 11. Leo NATEL, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 35. Zane SCHREIBER, 37. Max CAPUTO.
City began the contest well and controlled all the early possession with 70% of the ball over the first 20 minutes.
The visiting Sydney FC side were limited to just a couple of half chances which came in transition, as the likes of Steven Ugarkovic and Tolgay Arslan were able to boss the midfield and ensure City could control the game.
City’s first real chance of the game came in the 25th minute when Callum Talbot whipped a dangerous ball into the box for Maclaren, but the City skipper’s glancing header was just the wrong side of the post.
Curtis Good was almost the unlikely scorer of the opening goal, continuing a barnstorming run down the left all the way into the box where he was found by Marin Jakolis, but the unfamiliar surroundings got the better of him and he couldn’t quite get his shot on target.
The opener would come just moments before half time though.
Some nice play from Aziz Behich and Arslan on the left eventually saw the ball make its way to Ugarkovic, who took a touch to assess the situation, before firing a bullet past Andrew Redmayne into the bottom left-hand corner.
The second half couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for City, with a goal coming less than 30 seconds after the resumption of play.
A no-look pass from Arslan in midfield was perfectly placed in front of the run of Jakolis down the left, who met the ball in a paddock of space before driving into the box and teeing up Maclaren for his first of the season.
City never really looked too troubled at the back with central defensive duo, Good and Nuno Reis, at the top of their game and cutting off Sydney attacks time and time again.
Leo Natel, Max Caputo, Zane Schreiber and Terry Antonis all entered the pitch as second half substitutes with City continuing to control the possession and contest as a result.
Sydney did manage to put a little more pressure on the City penalty area as the contest wore on, but Vidmar’s men were resolute in defence as they held onto a well-deserved clean sheet.
Our busy schedule continues when we return home on Wednesday to face Buriram United, looking to maintain our place on top of the Group H table in the AFC Champions League.
We’ll then be back at AAMI Park once again just a few days later to host Macarthur FC in Round 4 of the A-League Men’s.