FFA Cup Match Report: South Melbourne 0-3 City

Melbourne City FC has made a successful start to its 2021 FFA Cup campaign, progressing through to the Round of 16 following a 0-3 away win over South Melbourne on Friday night.

Starting XI

Patrick Kisnorbo named his first lineup for a competitive game in the 2021/22 season but made just the one change from the team’s final pre-season friendly against Western United, with Rostyn Griffiths lining up at centre-back in place of Nuno Reis.

Without an all-Socceroo front three of Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout, it was the familiar Championship-winning trio of Stefan Colakovski, Marco Tilio and Nathaniel Atkinson who spearheaded City’s attack for the night.

What happened?

City had their opposition pinned back from kick-off, creating a host of early chances, though none better in the opening 10 than Florin Berenguer’s first-time pass across goal for Colakovski, who had the ball nicked away from his toe by the South defender.

A quartet of City chances followed between the 10th and 20th minutes, with City well and truly dominating the contest. Rostyn Griffiths had the first crack, optimistically striking from distance but watching his effort sail over the bar. Not long after, Connor Metcalfe was fed into the box but, under pressure from a defender, the midfielder was unable to direct his left-footed shot on-target. Atkinson had the next attempt, found wide inside the area but smashing his effort well over. Finally, it was Scott Jamieson who came closest, curling his right-footed effort narrowly outside the right-hand upright.

South’s resistance was broken in the 23rd minute, with Metcalfe timing his run to the edge of the six-yard box to meet Atkinson’s cross from the right, finishing first time into the back of the net.

In contrast to the action-packed opening 25 minutes of the half, the remainder of the first period was largely uneventful, with City struggling to break into the South penalty area as they did early on.

Atkinson tested South keeper Lopez on two occasions late in the half, but the scoreline remained 0-1 in City’s favour going into the break.

The home side was right back in the contest early in the second half, fighting to earn a larger share of possession than they had in the opening 45 minutes.

Marcus Schroen drew a brilliant fingertip save from Tom Glover in the 53rd with his free-kick bound for the top-right corner until the City gloveman tipped it wide for a corner.

South’s resistance continued from there, with City’s chances drying up in comparison to their early dominance.

However, the visiting side’s killer blow would be delivered in two, and both through marauding full-back Scott Galloway. His first goal, in the 66th minute, came courtesy of a rifled strike towards the near post, beating Lopez with power to find the back of the net.

Just seven minutes later, he combined with Atkinson to finish the latter’s cutback from the byline, placing his shot between the keeper and near post to put City three goals ahead.

With control of the game now in hand, City were able to make some changes late on, with youngsters Raphael Borges Rodrigues, Kerrin Stokes, Jordan Bos and Anthony Lesiotis entering the fray as substitutes alongside Nuno Reis.

A professional performance right until the final whistle, City were able to see out the three-goal lead to book themselves a spot in the Round of 16.

What’s next?

The win not only sees City through to the Round of 16 but also sets the team up well heading into its Izuzu UTE A-League season opener against Brisbane Roar on Friday, November 19. Hungry for further success in 2021/22 to back up its league double last season, the City boys will be eager for a fast start and will take confidence from tonight’s result.