Following three consecutive A-League Men draws, Melbourne City FC will be eager to return to winning ways when the team faces Central Coast Mariners away from home on Sunday afternoon.
The teams are separated by just one point on the table and given that the Mariners have two games in hand over us, the City boys will want to ensure they don’t get the chance to overtake us with those additional fixtures.
It was a familiar narrative for City fans watching last Saturday night; a positive attacking performance had seen us hold a second half lead but our advantage was repeatedly erased through equalising goals, first for George Blackwood after Andrew Nabbout’s opener and then for Hiroshi Ibusuki to cancel out Jamie Maclaren’s go-ahead goal.
The night was a costly one for City, and not just in terms of points dropped. A fifth yellow card of the season picked up in that 2-2 draw will ensure that Scott Jamieson misses out on tonight’s clash with Central Coast, whilst Nuno Reis will also miss following his sending off for pulling down Blackwood inside the penalty area.
These absences create opportunities for others in the squad, like youngsters Jordan Bos and Kerrin Stokes who will be candidates to replace Jamieson and Reis respectively, or Curtis Good, who hasn’t featured in a matchday squad since the Christmas Derby.
Desperate for the full three points instead of one, City will look to return to form against the Central Coast Mariners, who’ve had a mixed start to their season.
Having played just five games, the Mariners have won three and lost two, but will fancy themselves to get in touch with the league leaders once they’ve made up their games in hand.
City fans will hope that tonight’s opposition remain a little rusty given they only just returned to play with their midweek FFA Cup win against Sydney FC thanks to a Marco Ureña penalty. The Mariners previous game before that was their Round of 16 win over APIA Leichardt on December 22.
Ultimately, tonight’s clash provides an opportunity for the squad to kick themselves back into gear with an important win against a neighbouring team on the A-League Men table. Many of City’s previous positive COVID cases will hopefully have fully recovered over the past week, setting the team up to start converting one point into three on a regular basis to get its title defence back underway.
Izuzu UTE A-League: Round 11
Central Coast Mariners FC vs Melbourne City FC
Sunday 23 January, kick-off 4:05pm
Central Coast Stadium