Melbourne City has secured another three points in the A-League Men, defeating Central Coast 1-0 on a warm Tuesday evening at AAMI Park.
Jamie Maclaren’s first half strike would ultimately be the difference in what was a true game of two halves.
Rado Vidosic stuck with the same XI that took to the pitch for City’s last clash against Melbourne Victory. The only change came on the bench, where Arion Sulemani replaced Raphael Borges Rodrigues.
Starting XI: 1. Tom GLOVER, 25. Callum TALBOT, 22. Curtis GOOD, 6. Thomas LAM, 38. Jordan BOS, 13. Aiden O’NEILL, 8. Richard VAN DER VENNE, 14. Valon BERISHA, 23. Marco TILIO, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (C).
Substitutes: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY, 3. Scott JAMIESON, 4. Nuno REIS, 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 16. Taras GOMULKA, 34. Arion SULEMANI.
City began the fixture on top and was able to hold plenty of possession, virtually from the opening whistle.
The Jordan Bos/Mathew Leckie combination was threatening down the left as Central Coast struggled to contain the pacy duo.
14 City shots to two basically told the story of the first half, with City’s midfield trio at the top of their game and ensuring those in front of it had plenty of opportunities.
Bos went on a sizzling run through the Mariners defence in the 13th minute beating player after player, but unfortunately it didn’t result in the opener.
He was involved again though in the 38th minute, spotting Richard van der Venne’s forward run and playing a lovely lofted ball to the Dutch midfielder. van der Venne did well to beat his man, then teed up an inch-perfect cross to meet Maclaren’s back-post run, with the City number nine making no mistake.
Maclaren did have the chance to get his second of the evening just before half-time when van der Venne won a penalty, but unfortunately for City fans, the attempt was saved by Danny Vukovic.
The second half didn’t quite live up to the first in an attacking sense, with just six total shots coming from either team as the extreme heat began to take effect.
Both coaches rang plenty of changes throughout the second half in search of a spark and to rest the starters, but neither side was able to find that game-changing substitute.
The best chance of the half would come in the 74th minute through Mariners forward Michael Ruhs. A well-timed ball from midfield split the City defence but Tom Glover reacted quickly and rushed out to make the crucial save.
Neither side was able to generate any real chances for the remainder of the match, but City were more than happy to walk away with all three points and finish 2022 on top of the table.
City will be away to Wellington next Monday afternoon as it makes the trip across the ditch for the first time since February 2020.
A return to AAMI Park will come on January 7 when the team hosts Western United and you can click here to get tickets.