Your City boys are ramping up preparations for the second leg of our Semi Final clash with Sydney FC at AAMI Park this Friday night, going in tied 1-1 following the first leg a week ago.
After City hit the front through Mathew Leckie in just the 18th minute, a Sydney FC penalty midway through the second half means we enter the second leg on level pegging.
Here’s everything you need to know.
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FINISHING THE JOB IN 90 MINUTES
While both sides held the momentum at different stages last week, we go into Friday night’s clash on level terms and with plenty of work to do to ensure we progress through to the Grand Final.
While Sydney FC may have been able to claw themselves back from an early 1-0 deficit thanks to a re-taken penalty, Rado Vidosic’s City squad will feel they still have plenty left in the tank.
It’s been a run of strong home form, as we’re still yet to taste defeat in a home fixture at AAMI Park this season.
Now faced with our final home match of what has been a history-making season, expect a City side that’s hungrier than ever as we aim to continue our dominance at home.
WHAT IF WE DON’T?
Should the match finish tied, as it did last week, the game will go to extra time with two 15-minute periods to be played. The away goals rule isn’t in place, so there’s no need to worry about that.
If that half an hour is not enough to settle things, the game will go to penalties where City will look for the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie, Andrew Nabbout and co. to step up from the spot.
While Adam Le Fondre was able to convert from the re-taken penalty after Tom Glover’s initial save in the first leg, we have seen Sydney be shaky from the spot in recent times, having missed 7 out of 9 penalties this season.
We’ve seen Maclaren, our usual spot-kick expert, hand off a couple this season for mixed results.
Valon Berisha netted from the spot away to Perth, but Andrew Nabbout saw his effort against the Wanderers saved. That being said, there wasn’t much more he could’ve done, firing a powerful strike towards the bottom corner which forced a fantastic save out of Lawrence Thomas.
While we may have gotten used to our number 9 banging in penalties for fun in seasons past, the most famous penalty in club history belongs to a teammate who certainly won’t shy away from stepping up if the time comes.
We’re of course talking about captain Scott Jamieson, who scored from the spot at the same venue against the same opponent to put us ahead in the 2021 Grand Final.
GLOVER TO BACK UP LEG 1 HEROICS?
Making his 100th A-League Men’s appearance last week, Glover had a night to remember in the first leg of the Semi Final, coming up with several top-class saves to deny Sydney time and time again.
Earning Player of the Match honours, Glover’s double save just shy of the break left Sydney FC fans scratching their heads as to how they didn’t score.
With Sydney flooding forward in numbers, Glover launched himself back towards goal after making the initial save at his near post, and his outstretched glove was enough to deny Robert Mak on the follow-up.
He would continue his strong form for the remainder of the night, his net only breached due from the spot after his initial save was forced to be re-taken due to encroachment.
Speaking during the week, Vidosic was full of praise for Glover, crediting his ability to stand up in the big moments.
“He’s been fantastic. That was probably one of the best games he’s played for us.” Vidosic said.
“He saved a penalty and the save in the first half on the line… just unbelievable.”
O’NEILL BACK IN TO THE FRAY
After missing the first leg due to back spasms, it is expected that City’s key cog in the midfield, Aiden O’Neill, will return this Friday night.
Having played such a key role in City’s success throughout the season, the injection of O’Neill into the side for this do-or-die Semi Final will be a welcome boost as we look to book our spot in the big dance.
When questioned about O’Neill’s fitness ahead of Friday night, Vidosic was optimistic the Socceroo would be ready to go.
“He trained the whole week and he is putting his hand up to play,” Vidosic said.
“We missed him last week, so hopefully there won’t be any problem. We’ll assess on Friday if he is right to start the game or come off the bench.”
While City fans will no doubt hope that Jordan Bos’ final game in a City shirt is in a winning Grand Final side, this Friday night offers fans the final opportunity to farewell City’s wonderkid at home before his move to Belgian side, KVC Westerlo.
With tomorrow night’s fixture set to be City’s last game at home for the season – regardless of a win or not – it’ll be the final time fans can watch Jordy weave his magic on his home turf of AAMI Park.
Vidosic said the move was a reward for the hard work Bos has put in behind the scenes.
“I’m extremely proud of him.
“I’ve seen him growing up and excelling, we all knew he’s got a bright future ahead and to his credit, he’s been very patient and worked his butt off, and he got rewarded for that,” Vidosic said.
It has become a common occurrence seeing Bos track up and down the left flank for City this season, the talented youngster making a name for himself as one of the league’s most promising and exciting talents.
Bos will be eager to leave AAMI Park a winner, and he’ll be doing everything possible to make sure it’s not the last time we see him in a City shirt.
A-League Men: Semi Final Second Leg
Melbourne City FC v Sydney FC
Friday 19 May, 7:45pm