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Match Report: Central Coast 1-3 City

Melbourne City FC has gotten back to winning ways in the Izuzu UTE A-League, winning 1-3 away to Central Coast Mariners on Sunday afternoon. Jamie Maclaren struck first for the visitors, but City were soon pegged back by Marco Ureña, who equalised for the Mariners before half-time. Second-half goals to Andrew Nabbout and Carl Jenkinson, on his City debut, were enough to seal the three points for City.

Starting XI

Through a variety of factors, Patrick Kisnorbo was forced into three changes from the starting lineup that drew 2-2 with Adelaide United last time out. Nuno Reis’ sending off against the Reds paved the way for Kerrin Stokes to return to the lineup, whilst Scott Jamieson’s accumulation of five yellow cards saw Jordan Bos make his first league start.

Rostyn Griffiths’ unavailability on the day saw Aiden O’Neill shift into central defence, so Marco Tilio was introduced to the lineup in an attacking midfield role. New signing Carl Jenkinson was named to the bench as part of his introduction to the matchday squad.

What happened?

City made a bright start to the encounter, controlling possession well and earning a succession of early chances in the opening 10 minutes, primarily sparked by the creativity and technical qualities of Tilio in his advanced midfield role.

City’s strong start was rewarded with an early goal, with Jamie Maclaren netting his fifth of the season in the 18th minute. The opportunity was created by Bos, who had driven into the area and unleashed a fierce strike at goal that took a deflection on its way to Birighitti, who could only parry into the path of City’s lethal #9.

Though there were some minor chances in between, the game again came to life in the 39th minute with a big double chance for City. Nabbout and Maclaren had both gotten in behind and the former teed up the latter for a one-on-one chance against Birighitti, but Maclaren struck directly at the Mariners keeper. In the follow-up scramble, Nabbout was able to cut inside and get a shot away on his left, but the ball teasingly drifted across the face of goal.

The team was then made to pay for its missed opportunities, with Marco Ureña scoring an impressive curling goal from the edge of the area in the 41st minute to equalise before half-time.

The early stages of the second half saw a big chance for either side. In the 51st minute, Nabbout teased a dangerous ball to the far post where Bos darted in to meet it, but couldn’t make the decisive connection. A minute later, Central Coast exposed the City backline to play Moresche through on goal, but Tom Glover did well to rush out and spread himself to make the important save with his outstretched leg.

Fortunately for the visiting side, it would be City who would make the most of the next big chance, set up exquisitely by Florin Berenguer in the 57th minute.

The Frenchman squared up his defender wide inside the area before clipping a ball towards the far post, where Nabbout was able to read its flight and smash it into the back of the net on the volley.

After a cagey 20 minutes following the second goal, City came close on two occasions in the 78th and 79th minutes respectively. It was Nabbout’s cross that first troubled Birighitti, with the ball taking a wild deflection that nearly saw it nestle in the bottom left corner, but it instead flashed narrowly past the upright. Soon after, the Mariners keeper was forced into an incredible diving save at full stretch to tip away what would have been a ripping volley from outside the area from O’Neill.

With second-half leads often meaning anything but three points for City so far this season, City fans no doubt would have been on edge for the final third of the game, but it was none other than new signing Carl Jenkinson who would secure all three points just 16 minutes into his City debut.

The Mariners defence struggled to deal with Berenguer’s corner and the ball popped out to Jenkinson, who had been playing as a centre-back after replacing Stokes, and the Englishman was able to bury the ball low into the net to ensure a 1-3 scoreline by the final whistle.

What’s next?

The win sees City into third place for now and the boys will look to continue their momentum next Sunday when they face Western United ‘away’ at AAMI Park.