ALM Report: City 0-1 Western Sydney

Melbourne City’s eight-match unbeaten run came to an end at CommBank Stadium on Friday night.

Despite some late controversy, Western Sydney escaped with a 1-0 win on what was a night to forget for our City boys.

Team News

Aurelio Vidmar was forced into one change to his XI from last week’s win over Western United.

Marin Jakolis’ hamstring injury paved the way for Steven Ugarkovic to return in midfield, with young gun Alessandro Lopane shifting out to the wing as a result.

The biggest news though came on the bench, where Andrew Nabbout was named in a matchday squad for the first time this season.

Starting XI: 1. Jamie YOUNG (GK), 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 26. Samuel SOUPRAYEN, 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 8. Hamza SAKHI, 6. Steven UGARKOVIC, 10. Tolgay ARSLAN, 21. Alessandro LOPANE, 11. Leo NATEL, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).

Substitutes: 33. Patrick BEACH (GK), 4. Nuno REIS, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 17. Terry ANTONIS, 37. Max CAPUTO, 38. Harry POLITIDIS, 46. Ben MAZZEO.

What happened?

A disaster was averted in the opening stages as Western Sydney scored in the third minute but after a lengthy VAR delay, the goal was ruled out due to a handball in the build-up.

The next 20 minutes would prove to be a back-and-forth affair, both sides trading spells of possession without really threatening the penalty area.

A smart pass saw Dylan Pieras played through on goal in the 27th minute and he made no mistake with the finish, making it 1-0 to Western Sydney.

10 minutes later it was Jamie Young to the rescue, our number 1 pulling off a great reflex save to deny Marcus Antonsson.

Hamza Sakhi was a bright spark in an otherwise dull first half for City, playing several great lofted diagonal balls over the Wanderers defence to find Callum Talbot in space bombing down the right-hand side.

Barring the early VAR intervention, the second half began much like the first as both sides traded time in possession but couldn’t create much of note in the final third.

The highlight of the night from a City perspective would come in the 62nd minute when Nabbout entered the pitch to make his return from an achilles injury suffered in pre-season.

His presence on the pitch sparked the team as we looked a much better side from when he was substituted on, creating some better chances in the final third.

He found Lopane alone at the top of the box in the 70th minute who made the keeper work, but ultimately there wasn’t enough power on the shot and Daniel Margush saved it low to his right.

Max Caputo and Ben Mazzeo were both lively in their own cameos off the bench as we entered stoppage time with three minutes remaining to find an equaliser.

Unfortunately for the City fans who made the trip to Sydney for Unite Round and those watching on at home, a pair of controversial late decisions both went the wrong way.

Jamie Young was clattered into by Wanderers attacker Marcus Younis with a heavy challenge, but the referee decided only to award a yellow card.

In virtually the next phase of play up the other end of the pitch, the ball struck Josh Brillante’s arm in the box for what looked to be a stonewall penalty.

Despite another lengthy VAR review, the referee decided no penalty and blew the full-time whistle shortly after.

What’s next?

We’ll be back on the road next weekend, set to face Central Coast Mariners at Industree Group Stadium on Sunday evening.