Melbourne City has gotten back to winning ways following its 1-0 victory over Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Wednesday night. Nathaniel Atkinson came off the bench and netted the late winner to secure the important result in front of the home fans.
Following three unchanged lineups to start the new league season, Patrick Kisnorbo made his first alteration to City’s starting XI, naming Marco Tilio in midfield in place of Florin Berenguer. Stefan Colakovski returned to the bench after missing the past two matchday squads due to illness.
City made a bright start to the first half, accumulating a number of good chances over the opening 10 minutes. Tilio was lively in his first start of the league season and City’s best chance over that opening period arrived when he burst into a dangerous position to receive Andrew Nabbout’s lay-off, but the youngster’s shot was crucially blocked by the defender.
The home fans thought that an opener had been scored in the 13th minute when Nabbout drove into the penalty area and aimed a shot at the far post, with the effort taking a deflection and winding up in the back of the net. However, upon VAR review it was revealed that there was an offside in the build-up and the goal was ruled out.
From the 20th minute, City initiated an all-out barrage against Cameron Cook and the Perth Glory goal-face, but probably the best opportunity arrived through Jamie Maclaren in the 28th. The striker was bearing down on goal from a wide-angle but couldn’t work his effort inside the near post, striking the side-netting with his toe-poke attempt.
The chances continued to come from set-pieces, headers and even bicycle-kicks, but none could find the back of the Glory net as the scores remained locked at 0-0 when the referee blew for half-time.
Whilst it took a while for things to settle early in the second half, City went right back to peppering Cook’s goal, with Nabbout particularly dangerous on the right-hand side.
The winger forced a sharp save from Perth’s young keeper in the 60th minute when he speared in a cross that turned out to be closer to the goal than he’d have liked and came even closer just three minutes later. His teasing ball across the face somehow narrowly missed both the inside of the far post and any of City’s oncoming forwards, leaving City fans stunned with hands to their heads as they jumped off their seats.
Following that, the home side failed to dominate the chances as they did in the first half, finding it harder to make inroads into the opposition area and create space for high-quality opportunities.
Curtis Good came closer than any of his teammates had managed with his 83rd-minute effort, with the centre-back rising to head downward from the corner-kick. Agonisingly, he could only find the upright, with the ball hitting the woodwork, bouncing back into a dangerous central area and getting cleared away by the Perth defence.
Just as the encounter looked bound for a 0-0 finish with only a few minutes remaining, the home side finally got their breakthrough, with Nathaniel Atkinson netting the winner off the bench. Connor Metcalfe’s run into the area was found with the floated cross, but the midfielder had the composure to direct his header to the back post for his teammate to run onto and seal the 1-0 win for his side.
The win keeps City in touch with the early season leaders, with the team now on seven points from our opening four games – a better situation than we were in at this time in last season’s league-winning campaign. Following a hectic run of games over the past two weeks, the boys will now get a 10-day break before the Christmas Derby on Saturday, December 18.
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