Melbourne City FC completed its preparations for the 2022/23 A-League Men’s season on Friday afternoon with a behind-closed-doors friendly at Casey Fields against Adelaide United.
The hit out was played over three 45 minute periods in order to give as many players as possible the chance to impress ahead of Round 1.
Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo saw his depth tested with a handful of players not taking part in Friday’s fixture.
Callum Talbot and Curtis Good weren’t involved due to minor knocks in training this week, while Scott Galloway (ankle) and Florin Berenguer (hamstring) both weren’t risked but all four are well in the mix to start against Western United.
City squad: 1. Tom GLOVER (GK), 3. Scott JAMIESON (C), 4. Nuno REIS, 6. Thomas LAM, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 9. Jamie MACLAREN, 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 14. Valon BERISHA, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 16. Taras GOMULKA, 18. Jordon HALL, 23. Marco TILIO, 26. Harry POLITIDIS, 30. Luke ORESTI, 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 36. Kerrin STOKES, 37. Max CAPUTO, 38. Jordan BOS, 39. Emin DURAKOVIC, 65. Sebastian ESPOSITO.
The opening 10 minutes served as little more than a feeling out period, with both teams happy to knock the ball around and play themselves into the game.
Adelaide was first to find the back of the net, a scrappy goal coming in the 12th minute after a scramble in the box following a set piece on the left wing.
Mathew Leckie took it upon himself to get City back on level pegging, involved in everything in the minutes following the goal.
A smart Richard van der Venne cross found him unmarked at the edge of the area, but the winger’s volley was just wide of the target.
Valon Berisha then found Leckie out wide on the left with a smart switch of play, but while hit with venom, the resulting shot was straight at Reds goalkeeper Joe Gauci.
Nuno Reis was as reliable as ever in defence, making several important interventions thanks to some smart reading of the play.
He could do little to stop Adelaide’s second goal though, a quick counterattack in the 37th minute doubling the visitor’s advantage.
Aiden O’Neill looked lively throughout the contest and looks set for a big season after missing the latter stages of the 2021/22 campaign through injury.
van der Venne had a few exciting dribbles through the defence to progress the ball forward early in the second period, but unfortunately didn’t amount to any clear goalscoring opportunities.
A lapse in concentration allowed Adelaide to find the back of the net in the 76th minute via a back-post tap-in that City keeper Tom Glover could do little about.
As time ticked down in the second period, Nabbout fought hard to win the ball back in the penalty box and looked to have scored, but a desperate last-ditch lunge from the Adelaide defender cleared the attempt of the goal line.
A mostly youthful City line-up took to the pitch for the final stanza, with a number of players getting the opportunity to impress the coaching staff just a week out from the season opener.
Nabbout went close with a free kick early in the final period before Matthew Sutton made a strong 1-on-1 save moments later.
Young midfielder Jordi Valadon was brought down in the box halfway through the last 45’, but Nabbout’s attempt from the resulting spot-kick was just wide of the mark.
City continued to press on though, and would find the back of the net minutes later. Valadon was again involved, this time cutting back from the right wing to find Max Caputo in the box, who received, turned, and fired home with a composed finish.
Nabbout and Caputo continued to look dangerous for City in the latter stages, the pair again both going close to scoring towards the end of the contest while Emin Durakovic impressed in midfield.
Despite City holding much of the ball, Adelaide would twice score against the run of play in the final 10 minutes.
A long pre-season is now almost over, with City set to kick off the 2022/23 A-League Men’s season on Friday 7 October with a huge Grand Final rematch against Western United. Click here to get your tickets!